The Springboks returned to South Africa from their Castle Lager Outgoing Tour on Monday morning, and coach Allister Coetzee and skipper Adriaan Strauss both expressed their deep disappointment at the outcome of the tour.
The Springboks started with a draw against the Barbarians at Wembley, but then lost to England, Italy and Wales. The Boks won four of their 12 international matches during a challenging 2016 season.
“We have to take a hard look at ourselves and our current standards, which were not acceptable,” said Coetzee when he spoke to media shortly after the Boks’ arrival in Johannesburg on Monday morning.
“It was not good enough to compete at international level and we have to fix it. This tour has taught us a couple of hard lessons, for instance about the involvement of overseas players. You don’t know in what condition they will arrive, only one week before a Test match.
“They are still very good players, but somehow we have to get a better system of how to monitor players who are playing abroad. Otherwise we have to relook their involvement, but that is a policy decision that is currently under discussion by SA Rugby.“Overall we are very disappointed with the performances and the results on this tour, but I hope it can be used as a catalyst to benefit in the long run. I cannot fault the players for their effort and their hard work, however what was agreed upon at the indaba about the levels of our skill sets was confirmed once again.
“The reality is that the players and management are also extremely hurt and disappointed by the outcome of the Tests. We will now have a proper review done by SA Rugby, plus there are two more indabas scheduled where we will reflect and discuss critical issues that we have identified. I am sure that these processes will play a major role in helping us to get back on track again in the near future,” said Coetzee.
Strauss, who has officially retired from international rugby, echoed the coach’s disappointment.
“Every player is extremely proud to play for South Africa and we are massively disappointed by our performances over this year,” said Strauss.
“To win four matches from 12 is not good enough for the Springboks, and we are taking full responsibility for that.”
Despite moving on from the Test arena, Strauss however remains positive about the future prospects of the Springboks.
“We have a lot of exciting, young and talented players in the country coming through the ranks and I am positive about the future of the Springboks,” he said.
“I know there are already processes underway to review the season and to put measures in place to help take us forward.
“As captain I will be the first one to put up my hand and to admit that we were far below what is expected of the Springboks. I am available to offer my advice and insights on where we can improve.
“I would like to thank coach Allister for giving me the opportunity to captain the Springboks. Although it was a difficult year and results have not gone our way, representing the Springboks was an unbelievable experience for me every time I was able to wear the jersey.”
Eleven players made their Test debut for the Springboks during the past season, as part of a group of 48 players in total that were used in the three matches against Ireland, the Castle Lager Rugby Championship and the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour to the UK and Italy.
According to Coetzee, the Springboks will reap the benefits of blooding several new players during the past season.
“Those players did well in domestic competitions and we had to give them playing opportunities to see how they would perform in test match conditions,” said Coetzee.
“You don’t want to do that a year before the World Cup, for instance, so in that regard I am pleased that those players now understand what is required of them to perform at international level.”