On borrowed time ... South Africa coach Allister Coetzee.
On borrowed time ... South Africa coach Allister Coetzee. Andrea Staccioli

Final nail in the coffin of Springboks coach?

RUGBY UNION: The career of South Africa coach Allister Coetzee is dangling by a thread after the Springboks' woeful year.

The 27-13 defeat by Wales on the weekend was South Africa's eighth Test loss of 2016 - the most the South Africans have ever suffered in a calendar year - and just four wins.

The Springboks had their heaviest home defeat ever - a 57-15 loss to New Zealand in Durban in October - while last week's 20-18 shock in Florence was their first loss to Italy.

Coetzee was appointed on a four-year contract after succeeding Heyneke Meyer following last year's World Cup.

"I don't fear anything, to be honest,” said Coetzee. "Collectively, we've got to understand that it's not just one person that can take responsibility for that.

"If I'm solely held responsible for that, then I will walk away.”

Former Springboks coach Nick Mallett said better national coaches than Coetzee had been fired.

"I feel dreadfully sorry for Allister because he is a decent guy, but better Springboks coaches than him have been fired,” said Mallett, an influential and respected TV analyst.

Meanwhile outgoing Springbok captain Adriaan Strauss promised he would be "ruthless with the truth” when he faced the media after the loss to Wales.

The hooker, who had already announced his international retirement, became captain after the retirements of Jean de Villiers, Fourie du Preez and Victor Matfield following a 2015 World Cup where the Springboks came third.

"I am responsible,” Strauss told reporters after his last game. "I did everything I could this year.

"I made a lot of mistakes, I knew I would. But in every situation I put the Springboks first and really gave it my all.”

Minutes after the game, SA Rugby president Mark Alexander announced plans for a wide-ranging review, where the "number one priority is a turnaround strategy for the Springbok team”.

Coetzee paid tribute to Strauss, saying: "The big thing for me is that there wouldn't have been any other captain currently playing in South Africa that could have handled the pressure he has handled.”

Amid calls for a reduction in the number Super Rugby franchises in South Africa and a clamp down on overseas-based players' availability for Test rugby, Coetzee said: "We need to get the standards up.

"The Springbok stands for excellence. We need to make sure that whatever systems we put in place will give the players a platform to achieve excellence.”

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