A helping hand: what Coetzee and Boks need


It is a known fact that most of Coetzee’s management were not of his choosing but rather those imposed on him by the South African Rugby Union (Saru) and the consequences thereof have been dire.

Coetzee’s only choice within his management is forwards coach Matthew Proudfoot, while the rest are either remnants of his predecessor Heyneke Meyer or handpicked individuals from within Saru’s structures.

While the woes of the Springboks run deeper than just the shortcomings of the technical staff, the first step in reinventing an ailing and archaic rugby system in the country, is to ensure that the Springboks are well resourced if they are to take on the best in the world.

Before getting to the topic of which players should be eligible to play for Coetzee’s Boks, one has to consider the backbone of the team, which is the management, and ensure that Coetzee is surrounded by some of the best minds in the rugby world.

The biggest mistake Saru made when disposing off Meyer last year was throwing him out with the rest of his management team, despite the expertise and intellectual property some of them had accumulated.

Here, Independent Media looks at the experts that Coetzee could lean on to get the Springboks back to the top and make them a formidable threat come the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

John McFarland

Defence has been a major headache for Coetzee since the Irish Test series in June and after going through three specialists coaches, it is time that Coetzee calls on the old head of McFarland, who was an integral member of Meyer’s Springbok management team. It was his meticulous work on analysing opposition defences was one of the reasons why the Springboks remained relevant. McFarland was also at the heart of the Bulls' three Super Rugby triumphs and his additional work with the hookers aided the elevation of Gary Botha, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bandise Maku to national honours. McFarland needs to come back from Japan and fix the mess that is the Springbok defence at the moment.

Richie Gray

Also another member of the previous regime and his value can never be overstated. Gray is a breakdown specialist who was able to transform even the most stubborn player into a competent force at the breakdown, even though the Springboks didn’t play with an outright specialist fetcher in his years with the team. The Springboks are still without a fetcher and have been bullied at the breakdown by Ireland, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and England and along with their brittle defence, the possession turned over has led to their demise in most matches. Gray needs to come back from his native Scotland, where he is helping the national side after his stint with American Football side the Miami Dolphins recently. The Boks need him now more than ever before.

Basil Carzis

If the Springboks are serious about becoming the best team in the world, then their fitness has got to be the best. There is only one man that stands out in South African rugby and has the results to prove it - Basil Carzis. He is also a blast from the past regime and there is no doubting his credentials as year in and year out, he ensured that the conditioning of the Springbok team remained amongst the best in the world, even though he had minimal time with the players. Carzis cut his teeth at the Bulls where his strength and conditioning skills were evident with the dominance the Bulls players had in Super Rugby and Currie Cup. He was instrumental in getting the Bulls to be the fittest and strongest team around when they went on their four year domination of Super Rugby, winning three titles and producing world class players.

Fourie Du Preez

Those who have played with him and coached him, consider Du Preez one of the best rugby brains around. He is one of South Africa’s finest players ever and arguably the best scrumhalf the country has produced.

Du Preez has played against the best and conquered them all but his biggest asset is his ability to turn a game on its head or make an ordinary team great through his tactical and technical acumen. At a time where the Springboks are in desperate need of a world class scrumhalf, Du Preez could be the man to help guide the likes of Rudy Paige and Faf de Klerk and he will be invaluable in the Springboks brains trust. Get Du Preez off the golf course and back into rugby where he belongs.

Dave Rennie/Wayne Smith

This must not be seen as an admission that all things New Zealand or All Blacks are better.

However, it is taking something good from the enemy to make sure that we become better than them.

It is difficult to find a successful rugby nation in the world at the moment and not see a New Zealander leading the change - think Ireland. There is something that New Zealand is doing right and it won’t hurt taking some of it to help ourselves get better.

Smith had been Saru’s outside pick to take over from Heyneke Meyer as coach before the old guard at the union put the spanner in the works and rejected the idea. Smith was the assistant to Graham Henry when the All Blacks won the 2011 Rugby World Cup and is now assistant to Steve Hansen. He was there when the All Blacks secured a back-to-back world title and their third championship last year. The intellectual capacity he has will come with how to build a team that can dominate world rugby. He would be immense for Coetzee and the Springboks.

At the same time another New Zealander - a two-time Super Rugby winning coach with the Chiefs - Dave Rennie, could be another option as a consultant. Coetzee and Rennie had some interaction when the former was still coach of the Kolbe Steelers in Japan and it wouldn’t hurt seeing Rennie and the Bok mentor reunited for a longer period at international level.

Smith and/or Rennie would serve in the same role as Eddie Jones did for Jake White in helping the Springboks win the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

The Star

Original source: A helping hand: what Coetzee and Boks need