BACK STORY: Why Allister spurned a golden handshake
Coetzee appears to have burned his bridges
For a man whose career was built on carefully considered, even conservative, actions, the now erstwhile Springbok coach went out with a bang last week.
Even Allister Coetzee’s nickname, Toetie, suggests he is by a considerable distance removed from “big” or “bang”.
Yet, Coetzee’s almost out of character actions over the last few weeks set in motion a chain of events that made his position as Bok coach untenable.
Never mind what his employers, SA Rugby, had planned behind his back, once Coetzee’s explosive letter was fired off into the public domain it was effectively game over for the coach.His departure from the job he held since April 2016 could have been far better managed and orchestrated, but, in sending him off, SA Rugby is much more likely to give the Bok coach a golden shower than handshake.
Coetzee wasn’t spared, although he had the benefit of a small negotiated settlement.
The coach, you see, had polluted already muddied waters.
With Rassie Erasmus already installed as über boss of coaches and rugby in general at the SA Rugby, Coetzee was sounded out for how he could potentially fit into the new picture.
One scenario could see Coetzee continuing in his job, but with the considerable caveat that Erasmus would have ultimate control over the team. Coetzee is a proud man and he found this option deeply unpalatable, as he pointedly made clear in his letter.
The next option would have involved him being redeployed elsewhere in the organisation, which frankly wasn’t an option either.
Coetzee had been assistant coach of a World Cup-winning team under Jake White in 2007, so why would the first two options be prospects he’d jump at?
The third option would have cut to the chase of an immediate negotiated settlement.One insider said had Coetzee embraced the third option he would have been able to broker a deal which would have made provision for a significant severance package and have his pummeled reputation panelbeaten into reasonably shape.
Coetzee, however, took a course that by his standards was entirely unpredictable.
He got new legal representation and with it advice that put him on a collision course with his employers.
By writing a letter to SA Rugby in which the coach gave the hornet’s nest a fair old shake, he had effectively served notice of his intention to leave while airing his frustrations with his employers from a lofty soapbox.SA Rugby bosses were hopping mad about their public portrayal, some may suggest betrayal, in Coetzee’s letter.
Despite hefty legal representation and the fact that SA Rugby did not carry out their end of the bargain in his contract, the letter seriously compromised Coetzee’s bargaining power.
SA Rugby understandably went in low with their initial offer of a severance package.
As it turned out the parties agreed that the coach would get the equivalent of five to six months of monthly salary.
A source told Times Select that after Coetzee’s last salary adjustment the coach was earning close to R6-million a year.
The settlement is modest when you consider that Coetzee’s contract would have lapsed at the end of next year.
Coetzee, much like SA Rugby, has much to ponder.
The coach had asserted in the letter that he had been set up to fail as SA Rugby didn’t give him the resources or executive authority to appoint his own support staff.
Some suggest he should have fought harder as those guarantees existed in his contract.
In the end the denouement of his reign at the Boks was perhaps fitting.
From the start, Allister Coetzee had to settle for less.