I recently heard from a well-placed source that New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew told several counterparts at World Rugby’s meetings in London that the All Blacks had already identified their coaches up to the 2031 World Cup, Craig Ray writes for All out Rugby 

What? In SA we don’t even know who the Springbok coach will be this Christmas. The All Blacks are already four World Cups ahead of us in their planning. It’s like going on to the battlefield with swords and shields while NZ comes armed with Apache helicopters, laser-guided artillery and Terminators.

Allister Coetzee has dallied for long enough without so much as a hint that the Boks can cope with the demands of modern Test rugby. He will become the first Bok coach since Harry Viljoen to be axed during a World Cup cycle, after two seasons of woeful results. There is no other option.

Forget about four wins over an impotent France and two wins against a Pumas team in such desperate decline that they make the Springboks look positively Kiwi-esque.

Thrashings by the All Blacks and Ireland are the real picture of where the Boks are, and the image is a bleak one. The Boks are barely hanging on to tier-one status. Coetzee has gone as far as he can go with this team.

But that doesn’t mean finding a replacement will be easy. SA Rugby needs to target the best man for the job while identifying the best fit to work with re-appointed director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus.

And that generally means someone who says things like: ‘crucket on the wucket’. New Zealand are the best rugby nation on earth because they have the best coaches. So it stands to reason that the likes of Vern Cotter, Dave Rennie, Robbie Deans, and hell, even the wacky, break-dancing, Scott Robertson, have to be considered for the Bok coaching job. Of course, one or more of those men are probably part of the All Blacks’ 2031 plan, which muddies the waters.

Insisting on a South African Springbok coach is an out-dated criteria and also limits options to one candidate – Jake White (disclaimer: I penned his 2007 autobiography and he is a columnist for this website).

Forget about Johan Ackermann, the Bok job will eat him alive because he doesn’t have the street smarts to survive it – yet. His time might come, but it’s not now.

White has the credentials, experience and understanding of the demands of the job. Most importantly there isn’t a coach alive who has the same unshakeable belief that SA Rugby players are the best in the world, however outlandish that outlook appears at the moment.

But he won’t be considered because he is demanding and curt, passionate and scornful of amateur officials who fester and pollute the SA game with their self-serving agendas. White calls them out and lets them know what he thinks of their ‘contribution’ to rugby. It’s not flattering and they can’t handle his blunt assessment of their value, and his refusal to bend to their whims, so it’s a waste of time dwelling on the possibility he will be recalled.

Which brings us back to where we started. Trying to identify Coetzee’s successor creates a new challenge without necessary solving the current problems.

Rassie Erasmus is returning to be director of rugby and is unlikely to be appointed as ‘Springbok coach’ unless it is some sort of two-year interim job – another unlikely scenario. Erasmus has returned to overhaul SA’s coaching pathways, player management, talent identification, playing style and contractual issues. It’s a vital role that needs seeing through for the long-term benefit of SA Rugby.

Jacques Nienaber, the defensive Gandalf, has also returned. He will plan that aspect of the Boks’ future regardless of who the new coach is. Nienaber hasn’t left a cushy job in Ireland because he misses lovingly seared boerewors, and to run coaching clinics at the Valke (although that will be a small part of his job). He is back to shore up what has been a generally leaky defence.

Every major RWC 2019 contender is growing depth behind a settled ‘first XV’ at this stage of the cycle. Ireland, NZ, Scotland, England, Wales and even Australia know what their best team looks like.

In SA we can’t even decide if Pieter-Steph du Toit is a lock or a flank, or whether we want to play a roaming No 8 such as Warren Whiteley, or a direct, blunt weapon a la Duane Vermeulen.

The Springboks are at a precipice, which if they plunge off, could signal the end of their status as a preeminent rugby nation.

Decisions made in the coming months are vital to maintaining SA’s dwindling place among the elite of world rugby. Fixing the Boks is the most crucial aspect to achieving that outcome, because at this rate of decline, SA won’t even qualify for RWC 2031.

Thanks to 

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  1. “New Zealand are the best rugby nation on earth because they have the best coaches. So it stands to reason that the likes of Vern Cotter, Dave Rennie, Robbie Deans, and hell, even the wacky, break-dancing, Scott Robertson, have to be considered for the Bok coaching job. Of course, one or more of those men are probably part of the All Blacks’ 2031 plan, which muddie” . While I won’t argue that these guys are really good coaches, what utter garbage. NZ is not the best because they have the best coaches, NZ is the best because they play NZ rugby and plan accordingly. NZ plays a brand of rugby best suited to their strengths and coach young kids in this manner.

    NZ also play their rugby at junior levels in weight classes, not age groups. Not sure if it is true, maybe outwide can confirm this, but if true it makes sense that from a young age, players learn to use skill not just brute force. Our kids play age group from u/9 level, which means the biggest kid is normally the best and ball goes to him to run over the little kids. I’ve seen it so many times it is just sickening. The coaches picks the biggest players and never bother working on skills big or smaller kids.

    The Boks will be better once we realize we are not NZ. We need to play to our strengths and stop trying to be NZ. Stop copying them and create our own brand of rugby. Anyway, useless saying this. NZ is the best so I guess we should emulate them and forget our strengths. Wonder what England makes of our thinking.

  2. @Aldo:

    Who says the Boks are trying to copy the way the All Blacks play?

    The All Blacks back-line do not simply swing the ball laterally left and right and pray for a gap to appear.

    The All Blacks do not stand by and watch one or at most two players hit the breakdown on attack or defence.

    The All Blacks have not forgotten how to clean-out and counter-ruck en-masse at every break-down.

    The All Blacks have not forgotten what powerful pick-n-go`s at pace are.

    The All Blacks do not defend laterally, they have an awesome hybrid rush defence.

    The All Blacks have not forgotten the importance of tactical and exit-kicking in test rugby.

    The All Blacks have not forgotten how important balance is in selection from back-rows to to half-backs to centres to back-threes.

    I could go on… however if the Boks were truly trying to emulate the above then they are doing a pretty piss-weak job at it.

    It is more a case of have forgotten all of the above or the coaching staff undoing it whilst focusing everything into something I most definitely cannot see in two seasons.

    I will go further and say the only thing they should try to be emulating is NZ structures which are so organised there is almost seamless transition from lower tier rugby to Super Rugby to Junior AB`s/NZ Maori/NZ Barbarians to the test side.

  3. This “they play NZ way” is just crap – their skill (individually and in team context), execution, tactics, fitness, etc. are all from 100% coaching! And not even mentioning the selection skills – the ability to identify the right player, in the right position, for the right game. Just look how easily new members fit into that team – without any problem – and how they absorb pressure and yet somehow just engage into a higher gear when there is an opportunity. All the result of bloody good coaching! I had a discussion with Andre Vos a while ago, and he remarked how focused coaching was in Australia all those years ago – hours of drills in minute detail of kick-offs for example. And this was “stolen” by NZ and a blueprint implemented throughout their coaching structures. In SA we initiated coaching courses for young coaches – and pretty soon this was just the dumping ground of quotas to get them on the SARU payroll – just look what Zinzan Brooke and company has been doing for the last 10 years with young coaches in NZ – and then the results globally are no surprise. Of course it does not mean ALL NZ coaches will be the same – but the results confirm it is is the case in 90%.

  4. Ag liewe fok…

    Just choose New Zealand players…

    That will solve everything…

    You know

    Go let a Kiwi fuck your wife… she’ll do a better job than you… you can lick his cum off her afterwards and apologize for being such a kak lover too.

    And say

    “Baaayyyybzz… izzut naahhss…”

    Useless cucks…

    Timeo just got a flashback to the US presidential election when he read the word “cuck” and went to his safe space in the toilet for a cry.

    Bekke got a hard on and wondered where he can get a Kiwi to bang his favourite blow up doll while he watches.

  5. @Aldo:
    Aldo – like the idea of weight class vs age.
    In USA for football if you are above certain weight you get a stripe on your helmet and can’t carry ball ( so linemen etc). This is an excellent idea that will promote handling skills in rugby ( USA football does not apply OBVIOUSLY)
    No need for NZ coach. It would be weird & feed into bizarre Nick Mallet complex. It’s LOSER mentality to say you gotta have a NZ coach gimme a ***** break ! Maybe an American but not NZ LOL.

  6. @Craven: Nah, about par for Dowwe Dawie. Americano, was interesting to chat with the President of major Australian team last month: He reached out to Nick as potential coach / DoR for them (and had a good budget to work with!). Nick’s response was that he is more than comfortable in his current role and is not pursuing any direct coaching. I think between Nick (advisor role), Jake (team selection and strategic planning), Oom Rugby (technical analyst), and Vern Cotter (coach)- we will be unbeatable!

  7. Whatever Bekke just get it sorted. SA rugby brand is about WINNING even with the slant of refs favoring NZ.
    Against all odds and such. That’s why I watch.
    That is why the world watches.
    Winning is EVERYTHING. That’s why ZeeBulls hate themselves because they will cheat/steal & they STILL suck.
    Cannot believe a joke non-nation like Scotland that had chance to be independent but preferred an English boot on their neck is outperforming SA.
    Such a loser u are AC & SARU too.

  8. @Bekke: problem with that is that Jake will never be allowed near the Boks again, burnt that bridge long ago. Nick Mallet sits in a pressure free environment, where he can do analysis every day, without being tested, he has more than once indicated that he is not looking for something else, and getting any foreign coach to take up the poisoned chalice that is bok coaching role, will be near impossible. So that is a pipe dream.

  9. As for David, yes he goes overboard, but at least he wears his heart on his sleeve and is always honest. Rather that than someone who smiles to your face but stabs you in the back. I think he brings a certain charm to the comments section.