South Africa stick with struggling Coetzee

by AFP

South Africa have kept faith in coach Allister Coetzee despite a dismal 2016 season, the national rugby union announced on Monday. 

The Springboks lost eight of 12 Tests last season, a calendar year record for the country that won the Rugby World Cup twice.
South African officials held a long review of the season amid media speculation that Munster rugby director and former South Africa forward Rassie Erasmus would replace Coetzee.
Among the defeats was a 57-15 drubbing in Durban by greatest rivals New Zealand, the heaviest home beating suffered by South Africa.
They also lost for the first time at home to Ireland, away to Argentina, and to Italy.
Alistair Coetzee had a year to forget in 2016. Photo: Getty Images.However, amid many media and social media calls for Coetzee to resign or be fired, the 53-year-old will serve the second season of a four-year contract.
"We have no excuses for our poor 2016 performances even though last year was an extremely challenging season," Coetzee said.
"Our below-par performances will never be acceptable and we will have to turn it around.
"Since the tour to Europe at the end of last year, my focus has been on planning for the 2017 season and onwards, and ensuring we show a marked improvement.

"At this time last year I was still to be appointed, but this time I have already been planning, holding meetings, preparation camps and fine tuning logistics, to ensure optimal performance." - Alistair Coetzee.   
Coetzee was named national coach last year after a stint with Kobelco Steelers in Japan following six years in charge of the Western Stormers in Super Rugby.
His best showing was finishing runners-up to Northern Bulls in a 2010 all-South African final.
South Africa host a three-Test series against France in June ahead of the four-nation Rugby Championship, which includes Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.
There have been two changes to the staff that will support Coetzee with Franco Smith named backline coach in place of Mzwandile Stick.
A new defence coach, expected to be Brendan Venter, will be announced soon to replace JP Ferreira.
Smith coaches the Central Cheetahs and Venter assists Italy coach Conor O'Shea.

Both are former Springboks.
Patrick Lambie and Handre Pollard are among the favourites to replace Adriaan Strauss as captain. Photo: Getty Images."Last year was an incredibly tough one for the Springboks," admitted South Africa Rugby president Mark Alexander.
"We weighed many factors in the review process and believe that these changes will strengthen the Springbok management hand."
Coetzee named a 41-man squad on Monday for the first get-together ahead of Tests against France in Pretoria, Durban and Johannesburg. 
Club fixtures in Australasia will prevent players from the Coastal Sharks and Southern Kings participating.
Among the pressing issues for Coetzee is naming a captain to succeed retired hooker Adriaan Strauss.
Fly-halves Patrick Lambie and Handre Pollard and loose forward Warren Whiteley are among those who have been linked to the position.