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Fighting talk from Coetzee as he confirms his firing as Springbok coach

Allister Coetzee was on January 18th fired as the Springbok coach, but he is not going to leave quietly, accusing South African Rugby’s leadership of deliberately trying to destroy his reputation and make him unemployable.

He vowed to fight for his dignity and his ‘hard earned’ reputation as an international coach.

The ugliness of the fall out was predictable and it is likely to get even messier than Coetzee’s formal response to being told his fate.

Nevertheless, it’s finally confirmation that he won’t take charge of the Springboks in 2018.

Coetzee, in his two seasons in charge, won just 11 from 25 Tests. He tenure was infamous for twice conceding 57 points to the All Blacks, successive defeats in Cardiff against Wales, two defeats against Ireland (including a record 38-3 loss in Dublin), a first ever defeat against the Pumas in Argentina and a first ever defeat against Italy.

The South African Rugby Union’s recently appointed Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus will take charge of the head coach responsibilities in the 18 Tests leading into the 2019 World Cup.

Craig Ray of the Times reported on an explosive letter sent (by Coetzee and his legal team) to SARU Chief Executive Jurie Roux.

Coetzee was scathing of Roux, the SARU leadership and all things rugby in South Africa. He blamed everyone and everything, except himself for the 44% return.

Whatever the outcome of what is likely to a be a costly in court fight, the most comforting news is that the Springboks won’t be fronting Eddie Jones’s England with Coetzee in charge.

The Times reported that it was in possession of the Coetzee letter addressed to Roux.

Coetzee’s letter focuses on external elements and he refuses to take any responsibility for his results over two years. He also writes that he never had any performance related clause in his contract.

Coetzee, in his attack on SA Rugby, says:

– 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.

The Times further reports that 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.

“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.”