FLORENCE, Italy (AP) " The future of South Africa coach Allister Coetzee will be decided after the rugby tour finale in Wales next weekend following another momentous loss by the Springboks on Saturday.
The Springboks lost for the first time to Italy, 20-18, in Florence.
Their seventh loss in 11 tests this year saw them hit rock bottom, and prompted SA Rugby president Mark Alexander to release a statement immediately afterward.
"The whole of South African rugby is extremely disappointed with this year's Springbok results and deeply worrying aspects of the performances," he said. "It has not been good enough and no one is pretending otherwise."
This year has been full of unwanted records by South Africa: Heaviest home loss to New Zealand, first home loss to Ireland, first away loss to Argentina, first loss to England in 10 years.
"No group of individuals is more concerned or disappointed right now than the Springbok team and management," Alexander continued. "We know they are better than this. After that, it is our job to take steps to do as much as we possibly can to make sure we are not in a similar position in 12 months' time.
"Our focus is on solutions and finding answers to our current problems. We have a test against Wales on Saturday, and then we will review the season and spend time determining a path for the future."
The Springboks were third at the Rugby World Cup a year ago. Coetzee, who took charge in April, said he has not "lost the changing room," and believed he was still the right man for the job and will not resign.
"I'd say it's the darkest moment of my coaching career. The toughest. But I don't want to look at it emotionally now, because emotions are high," he said.
South Africa had won all 12 previous matches against Italy by 16 points or more, and just last weekend New Zealand smashed the Italians 68-10 in Rome.
Coetzee called this defeat "embarrassing."
"It's not good enough losing to Italy. No disrespect to Italy, they have deserved their victory and hats off to a spirited Italian side, who tackled and tackled for each other and forced us into mistakes."
South Africa blew a string of chances, especially in the first half. Knock-ons by Vincent Koch, Ruan Combrinck, and Warren Whiteley all wasted promising moves.
"You look at the opportunities we had and I can't believe them," Coetzee said. "I'm in disbelief. Why aren't we taking them? Why aren't we finishing them off?
"If we'd scored back to back with those opportunities then it becomes a different ball game. We never really put pressure on the scoreboard. We could have done better ... no excuse, they just executed better on the day."
This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings