Boks cannot win the Rugby Championship, coach Allister Coetzee concedes
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has given up on winning the Rugby Championship and admitted that his side is playing for second place, even though mathematically the race is still on.
The All Blacks top the standings on 19 points after four rounds, with the Boks eight points adrift.
To have any chance of winning the title, the Boks would need to gain maximum points from their remaining two matches — against Australia in Bloemfontein and New Zealand in Cape Town.
SA would also need the All Blacks to take no more than one point from their two remaining fixtures‚ which includes this weekend’s clash against Argentina in Buenos Aires.
It’s a highly unlikely scenario but it was strange for the Bok coach to concede the title while there was still a faint chance of success.
Losing 57-0 to the All Blacks in Albany two weeks ago has clearly left scars.
"Apart from playing at home and bouncing back from that very disappointing performance in New Zealand‚ there is still plenty to play for in the competition‚" Coetzee said.
"Although we can’t win it [the Rugby Championship] anymore‚ we can still finish second if we perform well in the remaining games. We disappointed our supporters with that performance and the team and management take full responsibility for that," he said.
"However‚ we now have to focus on the next important job‚ which is Australia on Saturday."
Openside flank Francois Louw joined the squad in Bloemfontein on Monday, having completed his club duties at Bath at the weekend.
It’s some welcome news for the squad‚ who suffered at the breakdown on their way to the worst defeat in Bok history in Albany.
Jaco Kriel‚ who performed well during the early stages of the season‚ missed the match with a shoulder injury and has subsequently had surgery that will rule him out for the rest of the season.
"Francois has come back fully fit‚ he had a magnificent pre-season‚ is stronger than before and has played three good games for Bath‚" Coetzee said.
"He is ready to play Test match rugby and I have no doubt that‚ in the absence of Jaco Kriel‚ Francois is the kind of player that would add value to our turnaround strategy for the last two games."
According to Coetzee‚ the Springboks will benefit from Louw’s Test match experience and his craft at the breakdown.
"He brings quality in playing towards the ball and making sure that we contest on the ground‚ not allowing teams to play off quick ball from the breakdown.
"Siya [Kolisi] and Jaco were hard on the ground and we saw the benefit from their partnership in our previous matches before Jaco got injured. Francois now comes into the squad with his own qualities and he is also bringing experience into that role and to our leadership group," Coetzee said.
"He’s been there and done it before‚ and apart from that he still has a burning desire to play for the Springboks."