South Africa head coach Allister Coetzee claims to have been offered “nothing more than a ceremonial position” with the Springboks should he not accept contract termination.
Within a letter addressed to SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux, Coetzee argues that his rights to “dignity” and “equality” have been infringed, and vows not to allow SA Rugby to “destroy” him or render him “unemployable”.
The letter was republished by South African publication TimesLIVE on Saturday, which says: “SA Rugby confirmed the letter’s authenticity but would not comment on the content.”
An SA Rugby spokesman also told TimesLIVE: “As a matter of principle SA Rugby does not publicly comment on employer-employee matters.”
Though Coetzee is yet to be formally sacked from his position, he claims to have already been informed of his impending exit on January 18, giving way to former Munster coach Rassie Erasmus, who re-joined the Springbok set-up in November.
“At this meeting‚ you [Roux] represented the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and I was represented by Mr Piet Heymans of Sport Employees Unite‚ although I was also personally present in the meeting‚” Coetzee’s wrote in his letter.
“In the context of the engagements between you and I prior to the aforesaid meeting‚ it was made plain to me that the meeting would deal with the anticipated performance review and its procedures as contemplated by my employment contract.
“Instead‚ the meeting was used as a platform to inform me of SARU’s decision that it intends to‚ inter alia‚ terminate my contract of employment with immediate effect.
“You informed me that a further aspect of the decision is that my services will be terminated regardless of the outcome of the anticipated performance review‚ as contemplated by my employment contract.
“And‚ should I wish to remain in SARU’s employment‚ I will be reduced to a ceremonial coach‚ and further that Johan Erasmus (‘Rassie’) has already been employed to replace me and is already performing the duties of the Springbok Coach. Should I be reduced to the position of a ceremonial coach I would have to face the indignity of reporting to Rassie.
“I also find it deeply reprehensible that‚ notwithstanding the fact that I have at all relevant times displayed the utmost good faith towards SARU‚ SARU has not‚ as a minimum‚ returned the favour.
“In any event‚ SARU is contractually obliged to exercise utmost good faith towards me. The fact that a decision has been made that I will be reduced to a ceremonial coach should I resist any attempt by SARU to terminate my services does not only constitute an unfair labour practice but again infringes my right to dignity and equality.”
Since taking the South Africa helm in 2016, the Springboks have won just 11 games from 25 under Coetzee, seven of which came against Argentina and France – who are now ranked eighth and ninth in the world respectively.
History-making losses to Italy, at home and away to Ireland, away to Argentina and against New Zealand (twice) have all occurred on Coetzee’s watch, as have further defeats to Wales and Australia.
But Coetzee added that SA Rugby set about “deliberately undermining” him, seeking to “create the impression of incompetence”.
“I was the most successful Super Rugby Coach at the time of my appointment and was requested to return to Springbok rugby from Japan because my country needed me‚” Coetzee said.
“My treatment since my return suggested that elements in SARU embarked on a deliberate attempt to undermine me from the word go and to create the public impression of incompetence on my part whilst wilfully obstructing my efforts to be successful.
“I will not allow elements in SARU to wilfully destroy me and render me unemployable as was done to Peter De Villiers.
“I am not interested in money and that I will fight to protect my hard-earned reputation which is in the process of being deliberately soiled publicly by elements within SARU.”