Allister Coetzee goes down swinging at SA Rugby

27 January 2018 - 14:25 By Craig Ray‚ Cape Town
Allister Coetzee at OR Tambo International Airport on December 04, 2017 in Johannesburg.
Allister Coetzee at OR Tambo International Airport on December 04, 2017 in Johannesburg.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee is going down swinging after launching a scathing attack on SA Rugby in an explosive letter addressed to CEO Jurie Roux.

In it Coetzee places the blame of the Springboks’ poor performances during his first two years in charge on everyone‚ and everything but himself.

TimesLIVE is in possession of the letter‚ addressed to Roux‚ from Coetzee via his legal representatives. SA Rugby confirmed the letter’s authenticity but would not comment on the content.

“As a matter of principle SA Rugby does not publicly comment on employer-employee matters‚” an SA Rugby spokesman told TimesLIVE.

Under Coetzee the Springboks have won only 11 of 25 matches but in the letter Coetzee claims that he never had a performance clause in writing.

He also does not accept any responsibility for the results‚ preferring to focus on external elements that resulted in a 44 percent winning ratio in his first two years in charge.

Coetzee also confirmed and alleged that:

- He was told his contract would be terminated.

- Current Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus will coach the Springboks in 2018.

- He was offered a ‘ceremonial’ role as Bok coach with Erasmus actually in charge‚ which he claimed would infringe his rights to “dignity” and equality.

In the letter Coetzee accuses SA Rugby of leaking information to the media about his pending sacking and Erasmus’s elevation to de facto Springbok coach‚ although he never accuses any one individual of leaking the information.

Coetzee and Roux met on January 18 where he was told his contract would be terminated.

“At this meeting‚ you [Roux] represented the South African Rugby Union (SARU) (sic) and I was represented by Mr Piet Heymans of Sport Employees Unite‚ although I was also personally present in the meeting‚” Coetzee’s wrote in his letter.

“In the context of the engagements between you and I prior to the aforesaid meeting‚ it was made plain to me that the meeting would deal with the anticipated performance review and its procedures as contemplated by my employment contract.

“Instead‚ the meeting was used as a platform to inform me of SARU’s decision that it intends to‚ inter alia‚ terminate my contract of employment with immediate effect.

“You informed me that the decision was taken by Mark Alexander (President of SARU)‚ Francois Davids (Deputy President) and James Stoffberg (Vice President) and mandated you as the CEO of SARU to inform me of the decision.

“You further informed me that a further aspect of the decision is that my services will be terminated regardless of the outcome of the anticipated performance review‚ as contemplated by my employment contract.

“And‚ should I wish to remain in SARU’s employment‚ I will be reduced to a ceremonial coach‚ and further that Johan Erasmus (‘Rassie’) has already been employed to replace me and is already performing the duties of the Springbok Coach. Should I be reduced to the position of a ceremonial coach I would have to face the indignity of reporting to Rassie.

“I also find it deeply reprehensible that‚ notwithstanding the fact that I have at all relevant times displayed the utmost good faith towards SARU‚ SARU has not‚ as a minimum‚ returned the favour.

“In any event‚ SARU is contractually obliged to exercise utmost good faith towards me. The fact that a decision has been made that I will be reduced to a ceremonial coach should I resist any attempt by SARU to terminate my services does not only constitute an unfair labour practice but again infringes my right to dignity and equality.”

Coetzee also indicated that he believed he was set up to fail as Springbok coach‚ listing complaints about lack of planning‚ no camps‚ 257 SA players based overseas and a host of other challenges.

“I was the most successful Super Rugby Coach at the time of my appointment and was requested to return to Springbok rugby from Japan because my country needed me‚” Coetzee said.

“My treatment since my return suggested that elements in SARU embarked on a deliberate attempt to undermine me from the word go and to create the public impression of incompetence on my part whilst wilfully obstructing my efforts to be successful.

“I will not allow elements in SARU to wilfully destroy me and render me unemployable as was done to Peter De Villiers.

“I am not interested in money and that I will fight to protect my hard-earned reputation which is in the process of being deliberately soiled publicly by elements within SARU.”

Coetzee has not been formally sacked‚ but this letter appears to confirm that he will be.

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