Allister Coetzee’s mandate: transform the Springboks
New South Africa coach comes with a solid record at the Stormers and is given four-year contract to rebuild national side before 2019 World Cup in Japan
Allister Coetzee was named as the Springbok’s new coach on Tuesday, giving him a mandate to rebuild the national side before the 2019 World Cup in Japan and meet South Africa’s rules on racial inclusion.
Coetzee has his work cut out over the next four years after the retirement of stalwarts Victor Matfield, Jean de Villiers and Fourie du Preez following a bronze-medal win at the World Cup in England last October.
That team was only just over a quarter non-white players and South Africa’s transformation goals mean he will have to raise that to at least half players of colour in a game traditionally seen as the preserve of the white minority.
His transformation record at the professional Stormers side was the best of South Africa’s Super Rugby coaches and was probably a major reason for his selection for the Springbok job.
“Transformation is not an issue for me. As national coach you have to understand our unique situation in South Africa. I firmly believe that uniqueness can make us stronger,” he said.
“Across the colour spectrum, players are performing at the moment and every black player that I select will be on merit,” said the 52-year-old, who in 2001 became the first black coach of a South African provincial side.
His Springbok appointment ended four months of speculation over who would succeed Heyneke Meyer and his opening assignment will be three home tests against Ireland in June.
Coetzee was assistant coach to Jake White when South Africa won the World Cup in 2007, spent six years with the Stormers Super Rugby side and also led Western Province to domestic Currie Cup titles in 2012 and 2014.
“It’s an important day in my life and a humbling experience, I am grateful to South African Rugby for having confidence in me,” said an emotional Coetzee.
“The last few months have been a roller coaster emotionally but I’m glad that it’s out now,” he said, referring to the decision on his appointment being delayed from December while he completed his brief tenure at Japanese side Kobelco Steelers.
He will be assisted by Johann van Graan, who also worked under Meyer, and a former fullback in the 15-man game, Mzwandile Stick, who largely made his name in Rugby Sevens.