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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

If international coaches were judged on passion for their country rather than results, Heyneke Meyer would rank alongside anyone in rugby union’s history. Never has a badge been gripped so tightly at anthem time. The 48-year-old lived each game as if his life depended on it. When the Springboks won it was all worthwhile; when they lost it was painful to behold.

Sadly, it was those gut-twisting defeats that Meyer could ultimately not escape. Not unlike Stuart Lancaster with England, he will be remembered as an extraordinarily decent man who could not quite generate sufficient on-field success. To be the coach of a Springbok team beaten by Japan at a World Cup is hardly a recipe for securing a shiny new four-year contract.

And so Meyer has stepped off the stressful, unpredictable Bok wagon before he was pushed. On his better days – and South Africa won 67% of their games under his stewardship – the Boks were well-motivated, grimly physical, defensively impressive and tricky to beat. On the debit side he persisted with senior players who were visibly past their best and South Africa’s attacking game was seldom as dangerous as their leading rivals.

That aspect of the game is continually evolving and maybe Meyer knew in his heart of hearts that, even if reappointed, he could not simply revert to the uncomplicated, forward-dominated method that worked so well during his provincial glory days with the Blue Bulls in Pretoria. South Africa also lost to Argentina for the first time before the World Cup and, while gritty in their performances against Wales and New Zealand, rarely looked like repeating their triumph of 2007.

“Since returning from England I have realised that as much as I believe I still have a lot to offer, the time has come for change,” Meyer said. “My integrity has always been very important and I feel I can leave with my head held high. I’ve always maintained that my only motivation was to serve my country and to do what was best for the Springboks.”

He will also have been aware of the rising external pressure from those who feel transformation within South African rugby requires fresh impetus. Rather than following England’s example and appointing an overseas coach, Meyer’s likely successor is Allister Coetzee, who hails from the Eastern Cape and would appease the vocal lobby who insist the Springboks remain too white in their thinking.

Coetzee, 52, was an assistant coach alongside Eddie Jones when South Africa won the World Cup in 2007 under Jake White and has coached the Stormers in Cape Town for the past six years. He has just started a new job in Japan with Kobe Kobelco Steelers but, as Jones has just shown, that does not preclude him from a U-turn should a national union come calling.

The experienced Coetzee is also a less divisive figure than South Africa’s first black coach, Peter de Villiers, and, if appointed, would be able to select from an increasingly deep pool of youthful promise in the shape of players such as Handre Pollard and Jesse Kriel. The South African Rugby Union, however, is also committed to non-whites making up half of all domestic and national squads by 2019. During the World Cup they were required to include seven non-white players, including two black Africans, in their 23-man match squads.

Juggling such imperatives with the need to keep winning Test matches makes the South Africa coaching job as demanding as any in the world. Many of the provincial unions, who were due to vote next week on whether or not to retain Meyer, were already agitating for his removal, with the Western Province president, Thelo Wakefield, suggesting “drastic changes are needed if we want to move South African rugby forward”.

Coetzee, accordingly, could be installed swiftly as the Boks prepare to enter an intriguing new phase. “We have reached a natural watershed in many ways with a significant number of senior players either retiring or moving overseas as well as the fact our strategic transformation plan is now in full swing,” said Saru’s president Oregan Hoskins.

South Africa’s next fixture is not until next June but Meyer’s successor will have his hands full from the outset.


112 Responses to Springboks: Farewell Heyneke Meyer perhaps Welcome Allister Coetzee

  • 101

    Some great sensible and poignant comments.

    Welcome provincefan. Nice to see some well structured and thought out ideas.

    GBS, at this rate you’ll have enough great Rugby minds on RT to force a Coup at SARU, and then we can target the old farts in Dublin.

  • 102

    101 @ Scrumdown:

    The 2 of us alone could sort them out, one time!

  • 103

    provincefan wrote:

    2.SA Politics in Sport…

    Quotas,whether you like it or not,but the SARU bosses wants 50% non-white players at RWC 2019 and that’s regardless of whether or not they good enough,let alone the best in their position.The selection of the next Bok coach,in all likelihood will be Allister Coetzee,has serious political overtones to it and what makes his appointment a political issue is that no foreign coach would ever agree to a set KPI that he has achieve,whilst not being able to select the best possible team that’s available to him.So that now makes South African coaches the politicians of SA.At one time New Zealand weren’t allowed to select certain part of their population,but they were still allowed to pick the best out of the rest of their demographics.South Africa goes the complete opposite direction in the next 4 years with wanting 50% black players represented regardless if they good enough or the best in their position,but just because they NON-WHITE.

    Very true
    When I said the same Nama crapped himself

    First the Nats refused Maori players in the All Blacks, now the ANC don’t want whites in the Boks

    It’s 50% now but wait a couple of years

    Remember the white guy in Bafana Bafana in 2010?

    The tall Pom who was the poster child for the New SA with his black wife and kids?

    How many games did he play in the 2010 WC?

  • 104

    provincefan wrote:

    3.Mindset of the Coaches and Players rugby-related…

    Jake the Snake,said “Australian rugby players play smarter rugby than SA and then got ridiculed for saying that from certain quarters in the SA public,but it’s true sadly and the reason being is that rugby in SA is played mostly by Private School Educated boys which lend itself to the macho,aggressive,”boykie” neanderthal nonsense and not the open your minds,be innovative,always willing to try new moves,new ideas type of mindset/approach that’s so common in New Zealand and Australia.

    Snor said so as well the other day, the Kiwi’s are educated and all have jobs to return to after their playing careers

    Look at McCaw, he’s a helicopter pilot

    Compare it to our muscular Neanderthals

    In the old days we had doctors (Divan, probably the smartest player ever, Daan Dup) and lawyers and the like playing for the Boks

    Now it’s only Doc Jannie, an average prop at most

  • 105

    Victoriabok wrote:

    Remember the white guy in Bafana Bafana in 2010?

    The tall Pom who was the poster child for the New SA with his black wife and kids?

    How many games did he play in the 2010 WC?

    You are probably referring to Matthew Booth .. he is no Pom though but was borne and schooled in Fish Hoek ( Skopskiet’s village :) …. He was always a huge crowd favourite and the crowd used to go Boooooooth!! every time he touched the ball. The reason why he stayed on the bench during the 2010 WC was because the Brazilian, Carlos Perreira, who coached the team never rated him.

  • 106

    And Dean Furman regularly plays for Bafana Bafana …

  • 107

    @ robzim:
    @ Angostura:
    Saw a link to a newspaper article a while ago that showed that Bafana had played more white players than the Boks and Proteas COMBINED had played “players of colour” since 1994.

    So those who scream about transformation in soccer should actually do their research before gobbing off.

    SA sport is truly a quagmire of political faeces waiting to be spread across the land by a Zuma sized fan.

  • 108

    Scrumdown wrote:

    Saw a link to a newspaper article a while ago that showed that Bafana had played more white players than the Boks and Proteas COMBINED had played “players of colour” since 1994.

    Please post the link, I would like to verify it

  • 109

    This is potentially quite an emotive topic for any sides of the spectrum folk look at it but the points raised here seem to have been made in a pretty civil way, thanks folks Approve

  • 110

    108 @ Victoriabok:
    Hi Vicbok, don’t have the answer to your question, will leave that to Scrumdown. However, here is an article from 2006 that mentions at that point since 1992 – “32 white” players had played for Bafana Bafana, don’t know the rest of the numbers of how many players in total were selected for national duty during that time:

    Another article from 2013 mentions the numbers of white players who were playing in the top league in SA and those overseas, thought it quite an interesting read:

  • 111

    And the new Springbok coach is?

    Come, come SARU, you said you were naming him/her today…


  • 112

    103 @ Victoriabok:
    Difference between yo0u and Provincefan is that you only beat the transformation drum as a reason for the Boks poor showing or possible future poor performances. Provincefan, on the other hand, looked at it holistically and give various plausible reasons why the Boks are not doing so well as we all want them to do.

    Really showed your ignorance wrt soccer when you called Booth a Pom here. The guy played in the Sidney Olympics for SA with people like Benni Mc Carthy, Quinton Fortune etc.

    100% SA beef, that boy. Wink

    #106: Your request wrt a link that will provide proof that more white players turned out for Bafana than African Blacks for the Boks?

    Google: National team representation since 1992.

    You’ll find that 39 white players donned the Bafana jersey in this period compared to 20 black players that played for the Boks and 12 for the Proteas.


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