South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins has denied reports that Allister Coetzee has already been appointed to succeed Heyneke Meyer as Springbok coach.
Meyer announced on Thursday that he would not be re-applying for his job at the start of the next four year cycle.
That followed a week of speculation that Coetzee had been approached in Japan by Saru officials and asked if he would return to South Africa to coach the team he served as an assistant coach during the Jake White era.
“Coming into Cape Town I saw the newspaper billboards and I was surprised because you guys obviously know something that I don’t know,” said Hoskins, gesturing to the reporters attending a media conference at Saru headquarters in Plattekloof just outside Cape Town.
“I don’t believe we should be hasty in appointing a new coach. It is something we need to take our time over and give some thought to. I don’t think that we will rush it so you can’t expect an announcement soon. I can tell you that Allister Coetzee hasn’t been appointed.”
All the indications are that Coetzee has in fact been approached and if he hasn’t signed, he intends doing so.
Nonetheless, considering the xenophobia that has driven the Saru decision making process in coaching appointments at Bok level in the past, it was refreshing to hear Hoskins say that any application process would be open to foreign coaches.
Indeed, he appeared to encourage that line of thinking, which might confirm well-sourced rumours that Wayne Smith, the long-serving All Black assistant coach, had come up in discussions at the highest level at Saru.
“A foreign coach is definitely an option,” said Hoskins.
“I think it is accepted global practice now for nations to appoint foreign coaches when they feel it is necessary and a foreign coach is the best man for the job. Of the 20 teams at the World Cup, 13 of them had foreign coaches. So it would be silly to rule out the possibility of contracting a foreign coach. It would be silly to say no to it.”