Coetzee made the shocking announcement that he won’t be extending his current contract which expires at the end of the year but would rather take up a position in Japan with the Kobelco Steelers.
“We tried our best to keep Allister. Not only is he a fantastic coach but we have a great relationship – on and off the field,” said Smal. “I am very sad to be losing him, but I can understand that he is seeking a new challenge – something which is close to my heart as I believe in empowering and constantly challenging the coaches,” the former Bok flanker said.
Coetzee’s final release date has not been confirmed as yet (he will at least see out the 2015 Super Rugby season), but Smal has also announced that there will be a change in the management group of the Western Province Absa Currie Cup team.
Under the guidance of Coetzee, who has been head coach of WP since 2008 and the Stormers since 2010, the Stormers have become one of the most consistent Super Rugby teams on the circuit. After losing an epic Super 14 Final to the Bulls in Soweto in 2010, Coetzee then coached the Stormers to successive South African Conference titles in the extended Super 15 in 2011 and 2012, the latter tournament seeing the team also top the overall log – to date; the only South African team to achieve that feat.
At Absa Currie Cup level, meanwhile, Western Province have won two titles under Coetzee’s leadership – in 2012 and 2014 – having, in total, contested four finals in the past five seasons, with two of those finals being at home and in succession. Coetzee, who was an excellent scrumhalf for Eastern Province in the isolation era said he will always have fond memories of the hooped jersey.
“I’ve had eight fantastic years at Western Province Rugby and would like to thank my fellow coaches, players, the leadership of WP Rugby and, of course, the supporters here in Cape Town and across the country. “My family and I have always been made to feel very welcome in Cape Town, but we have now been presented with a great opportunity and some exciting times await us in a very new and different environment.”
“I will miss the Stormers and some great people that I have come into contact with here,” added Coetzee.
WPRFU President Thelo Wakefield confirmed Coetzee’s departure, saying: “Allister must be congratulated on what he has achieved during his time in charge of both the Stormers and Western Province, he has been an asset to Western Province Rugby and he will be missed.
“I wish him and his family well, but we will say goodbye properly when the time comes. Allister still has a few big months ahead of him and I know that he will be doing his utmost to leave Cape Town on a high and add to his already impressive record as head coach of the Stormers.”