Bok coaches, ticket price sting, racism and icy swims


Johannesburg (AFP)

Coaching the Springboks is not for the faint-hearted with no post-isolation coach lasting more than one four-year contract at the helm of the South African national rugby team.

The latest occupant of the hot seat, former Test loose forward Johan "Rassie" Erasmus, was named Thursday to succeed sacked Allister Coetzee.

South Africa are ranked sixth in the world and will face second-place England four times and table-toppers New Zealand twice this year.

It is a tall order for media-shy Erasmus, who will be acutely aware of the history of short-lived Springbok coaching reigns.

After winning the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France, Jake White was told to reapply for the job. He refused and was replaced by Peter de Villiers.

Nick Mallett, who guided the team to third at the 1999 World Cup in England, got the boot after saying Test ticket prices were too high when trapped in a media sting.

Former star Springbok wing Carel du Plessis got the chop after a 61-22 hammering of Australia in Pretoria.

Harry Viljoen was another former international who did not last too long, having banned kicking to touch during a narrowly won Test in Argentina.

Andre Markgraaff was fired after making racist comments in a telephone conversation recorded and leaked by a couple of provincial players he coached.

De Villiers achieved three consecutive victories over New Zealand, but when his four-year contract ended, he was out.

The position had a strange effect on one coach with Rudolf Straeuli forcing Springboks to swim in icy water and huddle naked in a cave ahead of the 2003 World Cup.

His "character building" did not go down well with the public and he vacated the post after a heavy quarter-final loss to arch rivals New Zealand.

Coetzee survived only two seasons of a four-year contract, dashing his dream of taking the Springboks to the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

His sacking was results-related with only 11 victories in 25 Tests and a string of humiliating defeats, including twice conceding 57 points against New Zealand.

No surprise, then, that the South African media refer to the Springboks coaching job as a "poisoned chalice".