Allister Coetzee has left his post as Springboks head coach, the South African Rugby Union announced on Friday.
The departure, described as a mutual agreement, has been widely reported as a sacking after a tumultuous two years that saw 11 wins in 25 Tests.
“First and foremost we had to assess what is in the best interests of the Springboks,” said Jurie Roux, chief executive officer of South Africa Rugby. “We’d like to thank Allister for his passion and dedication to the Springbok cause and wish him every success in his next role.”
Until a new head coach is appointed, coaching responsibilities will be managed by the SA Rugby Department.
BREAKING: SA Rugby had reached an agreement with Allister Coetzee to part ways with immediate effect. The Rugby Department of SA Rugby will manage the responsibilities of the Bok coach until the coaching and management group for 2018 is confirmed later this month.— South African Rugby (@Springboks) 2 February 2018
“Time to strike out in new directions” - Coetzee
The 54-year-old coach said he wishes success for the Springboks in the future.
“I have always held Springbok rugby dear to my heart and will continue to do so and for that reason I think now is the time the team and me strike out in new directions. I wish Springbok rugby every success in the future – as I have always done,” SA Rugby quoted Coetzee as saying.
Coetzee’s two years in charge saw a first-ever home loss to Ireland, a defeat at the hands of Italy and a humiliating 57-0 reverse to New Zealand.
The former scrum-half was reportedly unhappy that he was not allowed to select his own backroom staff and that SA Rugby instituted a ban on the selection of overseas-based players.
BREAKING: Here’s SA Rugby’s statement on Allister Coetzee’s sacking. pic.twitter.com/q32Crm4RSR— Gasant Abarder (@GasantAbarder) 2 February 2018
Erasmus expected to take over the job
Former Springboks loose forward Rassie Erasmus is expected to take over as head coach.
The 45-year-old former director of rugby at Irish club Munster was appointed in November as SA Rugby’s director of rugby.
This week, amid uncertainty over Coetzee, Erasmus said the Springboks were good enough to be feared again.
“So there has been planning going on behind the scenes, and of course we want to get that clarity, but there is a process that has to run its course,” Erasmus was cited as saying by SA Rugby Magazine.
“However, it’s not hindering us in the background and it isn't affecting my role as director of rugby, which is to ensure that we are as well prepared as possible to be able to beat England in that first Test series.”
A three-Test home series against England in June will be the new coach’s first matches in charge of South Africa.