Coetzee signed off in disappointing fashion on Saturday night when his team conceded six tries to one, and went down to the Brumbies 39-19 in the second playoff in front a rather sparse crowd at Newlands.
It was the end of an era, as Coetzee spent his last time in the Newlands coaching box after eight years with the Western Province Rugby Union. Five of those years were spent as head coach of the Stormers, where Coetzee led the Cape side to three South African Conference titles, a Super Rugby final and a few playoff matches. He also won two Currie Cup titles.
However, Coetzee and his assistant coaches Robbie Fleck and Matt Proudfoot couldn’t help the team get over that final hurdle.
“I’m really thankful,” an emotional Coetzee told the media after the match. “It’s been an amazing eight years in Cape Town, the development of myself as a coach and with my assistant coaches, it’s been amazing.
“I’m pleased with my mission, but this is maybe not the way I wanted to end tonight.
“Playing and winning two Currie Cups and three conference titles and being the best South African side, and being the best transformed side, to me that is my job done and I’m really happy with that.
“I go away with no regrets, because we have won, we have transformed and we are sustainable. We haven’t won the Super Rugby yet, but I have done the groundwork and I’m going to leave it to the next guy.”
Still, though, he revealed his disappointment in not making the final and having a shot at glory before he leaves for his new job in Japan at the end of this month.
“This team is tired of getting to playoffs, and my last plea was that they are a good enough side to win the competition,” he said.
“We have been to semi-finals, and we have had enough chances in the playoffs. We must win it. They are good enough to go all the way.
“To contest for the South African conference is not where we should end. We are the best team in South Africa, but the focus must be shifted to the next level. We have got depth now, and we need to keep this group of players together for the next two seasons.”
The Stormers were outmuscled and outthought at the breakdown by the Brumbies, who seemed like they were a lot more calmer and focused then the home side, who it must be said didn’t have the ideal preparation after losing Schalk Burger to a groin injury and captain Duane Vermeulen sneaking off France and being unveiled by Toulon at the same time on Thursday.
Coetzee refused to make excuses though, praising the Brumbies for their effort. Joe Tomane scored a first-half hat trick, as the Brumbies took advantage of some awful Stormers kicking and a malfunctioning lineout. The Brumbies were also outstanding at the breakdown, as David Pocock showed the value of a world-class fetcher in the team.
“We are hurting. This is not the way we planned or the way we pictured it to pan out,” Coetzee said.
“One has got to take it on the chin and give credit to this Brumbies team. They were just better on the day in most of the departments. And for me the biggest one was the breakdown, where they were brutal.”
This Stormers team, who had a week off and bullied every team in the scrum this season, could not physically dominate a team who had a tough match against the Crusaders last week before making the trip to the Mother City.
“If I talk about shortcomings now, it might be with a bit of emotion,” Coetzee said.
“There are a couple of players leaving, and we have to make sure that we fill those positions with quality players.
“I’m sure we will get it right in WP. Our coaching structures are solid, if you look at how we dominated Under-19 rugby and Under-21 rugby.” - Cape Times
Original source: Coetzee happy with his work