Embarrassed South Africa coach Allister Coetzee is to canvas the country’s Super Rugby coaches later this month to determine a way forward for the national team in the wake of their record 57-15 loss to New Zealand on Saturday.
The Springboks conceded nine tries as they ended their Rugby Championship campaign with a humiliating defeat, their fourth in the southern hemisphere competition this year and largest against the All Blacks.
They have also not scored a try since Bryan Habana burst through in the 19th minute of their 41-13 loss to the All Blacks in Christchurch – a period of almost four hours.
They were restricted to four penalties and two dropgoals by Morne Steyn in their 18-10 win over the Wallabies last week in Pretoria and five Steyn penalties in Durban, where they never looked likely, or capable, of scoring a try.
“We are hurting, to the extent that we feel very embarrassed,” Coetzee told reporters. “The players and coaching team will have to a hard look at ourselves and it is only us who can turn it around.”
While Coetzee said the end of season tour to Europe that includes a game against the Barbarians on November 5 and then tests against England, Italy and Wales, will be crucial for a number of his players, he worryingly conceded there were few outside the squad who could improve the team.
“I will have to be patient with the players,” he said.
“If there are players out there who can strengthen the squad, we will have a look at that, but I can guarantee you that there are not many.
“We will again take and learn from the Rugby Championship and try and use the end of season tour to turn things around.”
Coetzee will meet with the six Super Rugby coaches before the tour and said he will table his plans for the team at the October 19-21 meetings and seek opinion on a way forward.
“I know what we need to fix, but I would also like to know from the other top coaches in the country if they agree that these are the skill-sets that we are lacking and need to improve on,” he said.
South Africa pushed the All Blacks at last year’s Rugby World Cup before losing 20-18 in the semi-final, though the world champions’ 2016 side had gone up a notch.
A visibly frustrated Coetzee sent a veiled warning to his players the time has come to shape up or ship out if they wanted to get to a point to challenge them again.
“The end of season tour is massively important,” he said.
“We have taken a few steps back and the end of year tour will determine whether we are going forward as a group of players.”