Allister Coetzee faces heated questions about his future with Boks

13 November 2017 - 17:21 By Liam Del Carme
South Africa's national rugby union team head coach Allister Coetzee attends a press conference on November 13, 2017 in Paris, five days ahead of the test match against France.
South Africa's national rugby union team head coach Allister Coetzee attends a press conference on November 13, 2017 in Paris, five days ahead of the test match against France.

Heated questions on Monday threatened to break the autumn chill as the Springboks started their preparations for Saturday’s Test against France.

A belligerent Allister Coetzee countered that the exchange between him and SA Rugby president Mark Alexander reported by TimesLIVE on Sunday after the Springboks’ defeat against Ireland on Saturday was constructive and not heated.

TimesLIVE reported from South Africa that the téte á téte occurred in the emotional aftermath of another embarrassing defeat for the Boks‚ but Coetzee‚ while not denying the conversation‚ disputed the alleged tone in which it occurred.

“Let me put this meeting into context‚" he said.

"It was actually a very productive meeting. Everyone is obviously disappointed after a game.

"We spoke about how we are going to turn it around‚ the next week.

"I don’t know your source or where you get that from.

"Make sure with him‚ it is definitely not the case.

“We had a chat about personnel‚ the plan and just keeping him up to date about how we prepared. It was a really productive meeting.

“(It was) definitely not heated. Guys‚ you know me. I don’t mince my words either and if it was heated I would have told you.”

Alexander also denied they had a heated exchange.

Perhaps the meeting was as ‘productive’ as disagreeing foreign ministers have ‘constructive dialogue’‚ but the fact is Coetzee is under near intolerable scrutiny.

“There is always pressure on the coach if he doesn’t win‚” he reminded.

“That’s the nature of the beast. This has been a better season for me in that I can see the growth of the team.”

When asked if there was the danger of him transferring the pressure he is feeling onto his players Coetzee was deliberately succinct.

“We just have to focus on our plan. As long as there is a plan I can handle any pressure.”

He also claimed to be in possession of a plan for when assistant coach Johan van Graan says au revoir before leaving for Munster on Sunday‚ and when consultant Brendan Venter‚ who has contractual obligations to Italian rugby‚ will reserve his input next week.

“We’ll have to share the work. I think there is a good plan on the table already‚” said the coach without delving into detail.

He was however full of minutiae in breaking down last Saturday’s defeat.

Under the cosh coaches would much rather espouse the virtues of the high ball‚ than grasp the reality facing them.

France on Monday remembered their fallen in acts of terrorism‚ and the Boks since arriving in Paris have for very different reasons‚ been heads bowed and contemplative.

Coetzee though believes in their ability to bounce back.

“We have faced this before. We came back from 57-0 (defeat against the All Blacks earlier this year).

"It’s about taking responsibility each and every one. It is not easy. We’ve got to put that behind us.

“This is a good young South African side. If given the opportunity they will learn from this and they will get better.

"I’ve seen this movie before. A team goes through a lot of struggles and a learning phase and all of a sudden things click. They gel and they start winning.

"The players know they have to hang in there.”

Whether he will remains to be seen.

He steered clear of the F-word. Even France only cracked the occasional mention.

The only thing going for the coach it seems is that he is in the city of love‚ for back home it appears to be in short supply.