The positons of the Springbok coaching and management team for the 2016 season and beyond will be reviewed by the Executive Council (Exco) of the South African Rugby Union (SARU), SARU announced on Monday.
Jurie Roux, the chief executive officer of SARU, said that the contracts of all of the national team’s coaching, medical and logistical staff expire at the end of the year.
“The Executive Council (Exco) has the power to appoint management and coaching staff with the exception of the position of the Springbok coach, which is ultimately decided by the General Council of SARU,” said Roux.
“That body meets on 4 December when the positon of the Springbok coach for 2016 will be on the agenda. Once all affected individuals have been notified of any decisions a public announcement will be made, which is not expected before 5 December.
“We realise the great public interest in the subject and this is easily one of the most important decisions we take as an organisation. Supporters will understand therefore that we have many factors to consider before any announcements can be made. Those deliberations cannot take place in public out of respect for individuals and our governance structures.”
Media are advised that SARU will make no further comment on the process until any announcements have been made.
Mr Oregan Hoskins, SARU president, meanwhile thanked the returning Springboks and their coaching and management team for their efforts during the Rugby World Cup campaign.
“A bronze medal was not what we set out to achieve but it represents some reward for the way the Springboks pulled themselves back into the tournament after a devastating defeat by Japan,” he said.
“Ultimately we improved on our performance of 4 years ago and arguably gave the All Blacks their closest match of the tournament, but we know that that is not good enough and we will have to improve in many areas if we are to close and overtake New Zealand.
“I’d like to thank Heyneke Meyer and his 3 captains as well as the rest of the players and management for the effort and dedication they put into our Rugby World Cup campaign. They fought nobly for the jersey and could not have given more.”
The Springboks’ next test engagement is a 3-Test series against Ireland in South Africa in June.
Any chance of a foreign coach being appointed?
Everyone will have to wait until December when SARU have their General Council meeting and officially appoint the next coach, which gives us a further month of rumours flying around.
If the position is still open then which options would SARU consider? There are many people that believe the Springboks need a foreign coach to shake their game up, but is that really possible?
Whoever is appointed Springbok coach in December will have to aim for the targets set by SARU in their Strategic Transformation Plan which Meyer has committed to.
That means that at the next Rugby World Cup in Japan half of the team will have to be players of colour, irrespective of who the coach is.
Those are pressures that do not exist in any other international coaching job, which naturally adds another dimension to the task and raises the question of whether the Springbok coach needs to be South African.
In Europe the only teams with ‘home’ coaches are England and France, with New Zealand coaches in charge of the rest of the home nations, and there are some who would prefer the Springboks to move with the times and bring in some different ideas.
There are some foreign coaches, like John Plumtree, John Mitchell and soon enough Eddie Jones, with experience of coaching in South Africa, but it is hard to see any one of them being handed the Springbok job.
The demands of the role means that it is not likely to be taken by someone that is not South African, but that does not mean ‘foreigners’ cannot play an important role in the team.
Meyer had the English John McFarland and Scottish breakdown specialist Richie Gray on his coaching team, but perhaps the Springboks could do with some more foreign influence in the assistant coaching roles.
Fresh ideas are always a good thing, and the Springboks could clearly do with some after scoring 1 try in 160 minutes of Rugby World Cup knock-out rugby, but those foreign coaches would probably be more effective if they didn’t have the spotlight constantly shone on them as head coach.
Dealing with the unique pressures of being the Springbok coach is a job that should be left to a South African, but that does not mean the team should go without foreign influence.
Could John Plumtree take over from Heyneke?
Weekend reports suggested Heyneke Meyer has already signed a new 4-year Springbok deal believed to be worth R 5 million a year.
However, this is not cast in stone and still needs to be approved by SARU’s General Council which will meet on 4 December.
Should Meyer fall on his sword after an indifferent Rugby World Cup campaign – or if SARU give him the boot – SA bookies Sportingbet suggest New Zealand’s John Plumtree is the favourite to take over.
Plumtree has been installed as the early favourite for the role – at evens – followed by his compatriot and former Lions coach John Mitchell (5/2).
Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett can be backed at 5/1, with ex-Stormers boss Allister Coetzee on offer at 8/1.
Current coach of the Currie Cup champion Golden Lions, Johan Ackermann, looks an attractive bet at 10/1, while Western Province Director of Rugby Gert Smal is at 16/1.
Another former Springbok coach, Jake White, is an outsider at 33/1, but not as much of a long-shot as former Wallaby wing David Campese (100/1).