Allister Coetzee to remain South Africa head coach
By Rory O'Callaghan
Last Updated: 27/02/17 2:44pm
Allister Coetzee will remain head coach of the Springboks following a review by the South African Rugby Union.
Coetzee was under pressure to stand down from his role after guiding his national side to their worst-ever calendar year in 2016.
South Africa suffered a first home defeat to Ireland in June before losing 57-15 to rivals New Zealand in the Rugby Championship in October.
Italy earned their first-ever win over the Springboks with a 20-18 victory in November while Wales and England both beat Coetzee's side in the autumn internationals.
While Coetzee will remain in charge, there have been a number of changes to his backroom staff with assistant coach Mzwandile Stick dropping out to work with the U20 side, and the addition of Cheetahs coach Franco Smith on a permanent basis.
Johann van Graan and Matthew Proudfoot will remain as assistant coaches while Italy's specialist defensive coach Brendan Venter has been linked with the Boks, although he has a contract with the Azzurri until 2019.
"Our coaching review was focused on the Springboks and we identified two areas to give Allister Coetzee additional support at the head of our most prized national asset," SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said.
"Franco Smith will continue the work he began with the backs and attack at the end of last year while we are very excited about the new defensive coach we have identified to address matters raised during the review.
"We expect to be able to confirm that appointment shortly."
South Africa won just four Test matches last year but Alexander expects results to improve, starting with a three-match series against France in June.
"Last year was an incredibly tough one for the Springboks and all of the rugby community suffered," he said.
"We weighed many factors in the review process but we believe that these changes will strengthen the Springbok management hand."