CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa coach Allister Coetzee said he has been effectively demoted from his post and accused the country’s rugby authorities of setting him up to fail in a letter leaked to several media outlets over the weekend.
Coetzee said he had been told his contract was being terminated after two years in charge but offered a chance to stay on as a “ceremonial coach” with newly appointed Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus effectively in charge.
In a 19-page letter addressed to SA Rugby, Coetzee recounts his Jan. 18 meeting with the union’s chief executive officer Jurie Roux, which was supposed to be a review of his performance after 24 months in charge.
“The meeting was used as a platform to inform me of SARU’s decision that it intends to terminate my contract of employment with immediate effect, regardless of the outcome of the anticipated performance review‚ as contemplated by my employment contract,” he wrote.
“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.”
SA Rugby confirmed the letter’s authenticity but refused any comment.
Coetzee was appointed after the 2015 Rugby World Cup, where the Boks finished third, but has won 11 of 25 tests in a torrid spell for the team.
“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,” he wrote.
“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 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,” he added.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty