South Africa finished second overall courtesy of their Ellis Park derring-do against New Zealand, and for but five points, the collective margin of defeat against the Wallabies in Perth and All Blacks in Wellington, it could have been a massive celebration for the team.
Admittedly the eventual champions boasted a 49-point difference advantage over the Springboks, but if the South African’s 4-2 ledger had been 5-1 (bonus points wouldn’t have come into the equation), the trophy would be theirs.
The victory is Meyer’s 24th in 33 Tests (a 73% winning mark), closes the gap in the IRB rankings (versus one and two) to just over two points, while the Republic boasts nearly a five point advantage over newly promoted England in third.
South Africa’s four wins and two losses equalled their return from last season, and their overall ten victories in The Rugby Championship’s history over 18 Tests gives them a three win lead over Australia (from 2012-2014) and second over the last three years (All Blacks 16-1-1).
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has taken time off his busy schedule to answer some of your rugby related questions.
Meyer’s Springbok team just finished their Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign with a famous win over New Zealand at Ellis Park.
The Q&A session once again proved very popular with our readers with hundreds of questions streaming in. We picked out the widest possible range of questions to put to the Springbok coach.
Here is what he had to say:
No overseas-based players will be available for the Boks’ end of year Test against Wales at the Millennium Stadium.
The Springboks’ end-of-year tour itinerary includes Tests against Ireland in Dublin (8 November), England in London (15 November), Italy in Padova (22 November) and Wales in Cardiff (29 November).
“The match against Wales falls outside the IRB Test window so our overseas-based players will not be available for that match, which will provide a good test for our depth in South Africa and I’m excited to see what a number of our younger players can do in the Millennium Stadium,” said Meyer.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer described the 27-25 win over New Zealand in the final match of the Springboks Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign as one of the best matches in which he had been involved.
The support of the sell-out Ellis Park crowd also lifted the team’s effort, he said.
“I have been involved in rugby for almost 30 years and this support was unbelievable. We saw the crowd support on the way into the stadium and the national anthem was awesome. It was an unbelievable Test match,” Meyer said.
John Mitchell holds concerns for the Springboks’ World Cup prospects and doesn’t believe they have the attacking threats to upset the All Blacks at Ellis Park on Saturday.
After four years in South Africa, following his departure as All Blacks coach after the semifinal exit at the 2003 World Cup, Mitchell is well placed to assess the country’s changing landscape.
His main worry is the lack of youth being promoted by the Boks.
With about 250 South Africans now playing rugby overseas – the equivalent of six professional teams – Mitchell says the next generation are suffering through a lack of faith from Boks coach Heyneke Meyer, who has instead turned to aging veterans Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield and Schalk Burger.
Mr Oregan Hoskins, president of the South African Rugby Union (SARU), accompanied by a Springbok delegation on Friday visited the recuperating former “Coloured Springboks” captain Salie Fredericks at his house in Gordon’s Bay.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, team manager Ian Schwartz, captain Jean de Villiers and vice-captain Victor Matfield accompanied Mr Hoskins, as they wished Mr Fredericks well with his recovery from surgery.
Fredericks, who was labelled as the “Black Frik du Preez” by some newspapers in his playing days, played more than 200 provincial matches for Western Province in competitions of the former South African Coloured Rugby Football Board, and later the non-racial and anti-apartheid South African Rugby Union.
The formidable presence of No 8 Duane Vermeulen could be missing from the Springbok arsenal when they play their final Rugby Championship match of the year against the All Blacks at Ellis Park next Saturday.
Vermeulen left the field late in the second half with a rib injury, and with Schalk Burger having already come onto the field for Teboho Mohoje, that meant that a lock, Victor Matfield, had to take up position on the side of the scrum.
Meyer Praises fit, gutsy Boks
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Saturday applauded the fitness and never-say-die attitude of his team in defeating Australia 28-10 in the Rugby Championship at DHL Newlands.
The Springboks scored three tries in the last ten minutes to seal a bonus point victory.
“We played great rugby at times in the first half, but their defence was great. We became a bit frustrated because of that, but in the second half the fitness levels and impact from the bench was massive for us; I told our conditioning coach Basil Carzis as much afterwards,” Meyer said.
The player at the centre of a race storm surrounding the Springboks says he has no choice but to ignore the controversy created by his selection.
Rookie breakaway Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje was named ahead of 71-Test veteran Schalk Burger to start against the Wallabies this weekend and was thrust headlong into a fierce debate over the politics surrounding rugby in South Africa.
Even as he spoke at Wednesday’s press conference here, a stiff north-wester – so often the city’s rain-preceding wind – howled and dark clouds engulfed Table Mountain, not from the end that characterises the trademark lilywhite summer “tablecloth”.
Yet a notably recurring theme from Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer was his wish for a precipitation-free Castle Rugby Championship Test match against the Wallabies at Newlands on Saturday.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer was left visibly frustrated and annoyed his side had failed to end the All Blacks’ five-year winning streak in New Zealand.
Deep down, however, he knew the mistakes that had been made could be rectified and the youngsters in his team would only be better for their tight 14-10 defeat to the world champions in Wellington on Saturday.
The Springboks put a positive spin on their narrow defeat to the All Blacks in a bruising encounter on Saturday, saying they learnt valuable lessons a year out from the World Cup.
The 14-10 defeat in Wellington all but ended the Springboks bid to prevent the All Blacks claiming the Rugby Championship trophy for a third successive year.
It also came at a price, with scrum-half Ruan Pienaar out for up to eight weeks with knee ligament damage and a question mark over flanker Francois Louw, who suffered an arm injury.
But in the plus column, coach Heyneke Meyer saw a valuable return from his gamble to play 20-year-old Handre Pollard and 21-year-old Jan Serfontein against the top side in the world.
Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer knew he had rolled the dice in selecting rookie flyhalf Handre Pollard to play against the All Blacks, but was pleased the 20-year-old had proved he was worth the gamble.
Pollard hardly put a foot wrong in his fourth test, and first against the world champions, driving the Springboks around Wellington Regional Stadium, producing a superb inside pass to set up their only try and providing a solid kicking game.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen doesn’t mind having a public pop at the Wallabies, but when it comes to one of world rugby’s enduring rivalries, and South African coach Heyneke Meyer, there is nothing but mutual respect.
“I myself have a huge amount of respect for their coach [Heyneke Meyer]. I think he’s a good man and a good coach,” Hansen said today, ahead of Saturday night’s test against South Africa in Wellington.
“Their captain Jean [de Villiers], having his 100th game [on Saturday] I’d like to congratulate him on that.”
Heyneke Meyer, as every Springbok coach has before him, will have his year’s work measured by how his side goes against the All Blacks.
That is just the way it is in South Africa and Meyer would have known that before he accepted the job. But if anyone thinks it’s a fair contest, and that he is pitting himself against his All Black adversary Steve Hansen on equal terms, they need to think again.
The expectations of South Africans do not match the rugby realities of the two countries. New Zealand’s centralised system, with Super Rugby coaches and players contracted to the NZRFU and everything geared towards making the All Blacks excellent, gives Hansen a leg up that Meyer doesn’t have.
Having suffered defeat to the Wallabies this past Saturday, even the most die-hard Springbok supporters must be wondering if their team can win in New Zealand for the first time in five years.
Since taking the reins in 2012, Steve Hansen has forged a well-organised unit that plays with pride and purpose.
However, what makes the All Blacks most difficult to beat is their ball-in-hand threat.
To offer an example, in the final play of the first stanza against Argentina in Napier, the home side won a tighthead. Subsequently Beauden Barrett took the ball to the line, used his quick feet and evasiveness to pierce the defence and fed the lightening-quick Liam Messam, who scored the try.
South Africa have handed the controls to 20-year-old first five-eighth Handré Pollard as they look for an attacking spark to end their three-year drought against the All Blacks.
Pollard is the only change to the Springbok side that lost narrowly to Australia in Perth last week, but signals a major shift from coach Heyneke Meyer as he looks forward toward next year’s World Cup.
Significantly, Pollard, in what will be just his fourth test, pushes the more traditional South African veteran Morné Steyn out of the squad for what is South Africa’s biggest test of The Rugby Championship so far this year.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has confirmed its plans to ensure that half the Springbok team is made up of players of colour by 2019.
Rapport on Sunday revealed SARU’s Transformation Strategic Plan, which aims to bring all of South Africa’s representative rugby teams, along with domestic teams in line with national targets in five years.
Of the Springbok team currently competing in the Rugby Championship, 19% of the players are non-white, while only 12% are black African. Zimbabwean-born prop Tendai Mtawarira was the only black African player to start in the defeat to Australia in Perth, with Trevor Nyakane warming the bench.
But SARU wants to make sure that by 2019 at least half the Springbok side consists of players of colour, with 60% of those required to be black African.
SARU also set a mandate for Bok coach Heyneke Meyer to select at least five black players in his squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England as well as include seven players of colour in his match-day squad in the lead-up to the tournament.
According to Beeld, all 14 of South Africa’s provincial unions approved the new strategic plan on August 13 this year.
SARU has already shared the plan with SASCOC and the sports ministry. The next step is for SARU’s general council to approve the plan.
The Springboks will need a monumental effort to down the All Blacks, but coach Heyneke Meyer believes South Africa can win for the first time in New Zealand in five years.
South Africa face to the world champions in Wellington next Saturday trailing by three points on the Rugby Championship standings after a last-gasp 24-23 loss to the Wallabies in Perth on Saturday.
It was the Springboks’ first defeat in this year’s four-nation tournament after winning back-to-back against Argentina, but they face their supreme test away to the All Blacks.
The Springboks will seek “clarity” around Bryan Habana’s controversial sin-binning but have refused to blame match officials for their one-point loss to the Wallabies in Perth.
Referee George Clancy’s call to pull a yellow card from his pocket in response to Habana’s high shot on Australian winger Rob Horne in the 65th minute lit up social media with a torrent of criticism for Clancy and the International Rugby Board’s management of its match officials.
And while a clearly agitated Heyneke Meyer walked into the post-match media conference after the match, the South African coach demurred from jumping on board, calling instead for “consistency” across the board.
He became an honorary Australian by starring for the Waratahs in their Super Rugby triumph but Jacques Potgieter is set to go from teammate to fierce Test rival with a recall to the Springboks later this month.
The wildman flanker, who became a cult hero for NSW, is a favourite of Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer and News Corporation understands Potgieter will be drafted into the South African squad for home games against Australia and New Zealand.
Potgieter is currently playing in Japan for the Fukuoka Sanix Blues but recently returned to South Africa on holidays and spoke with Meyer at the Boks’ first Test win over Argentina at Loftus Versfeld.
The last time Heyneke Meyer set foot on Australian soil he heaped praise at the feet of the Wallabies and promptly directed they be torn apart at Suncorp Stadium a few days later.
There was an ominous familiarity then in Meyer’s comments this week in Perth, where South Africa are angling for a ninth-straight Test win and fourth on the trot against a wounded Australia.
Wallabies, a bad team? They’re “brilliant”, but played “one bad game”. The Australian forwards, “powder puffs”? Never. The Wallabies’ back line is “big, quick and in form”, with a newly-acquired kicking game and two “world-class” players on the bench.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer expects higher standards in Australia than his side achieved against Argentina.
Although they beat the Pumas at home and away, neither of the wins were convincing with torrential rain slowing them down in Pretoria before they got out of jail in Salta.
Meyer admitted that he was not satisfied with their two performances thus far, and added that they will have to lift their standards if they are to get the better of a competitive Wallabies outfit.
Victor Matfield is over his injury problems and will rejoin the Springbok squad when they get together for the Australasian leg of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, while Marcel van der Merwe has been called up for the injured Frans Malherbe.
Furthermore, Willem Alberts has also been drafted back into the squad, pending a fitness test on Thursday when the squad gets together in Johannesburg. Both Alberts and Matfield were part of the initial 30-man squad, but missed out on the victories over Argentina in Pretoria and Salta because of injury.
After the mauling the Springbok scrum received at the hands of the Pumas in two consecutive tests there have been calls from armchair critics for coach Heyneke Meyer to make changes, but in the naming of his 30-man squad for the Australasian leg of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship came confirmation that his hands are tied.
Lood de Jager, the ‘next big thing’ in the Springbok second row, has been ‘missing in action’ of late.
De Jager, after a series of stand-out performances for the Cheetahs in this year’s Super Rugby tournament, made his debut in the Green and Gold against Wales in Durban during the Incoming Series and currently has five Test caps to his name.
Taking their heads out of the sand and admitting that there is a massive problem with the scrum would be a good start, but the Springbok self-analysis will have to go far further than that if the problems that were exposed by Argentina are not to lead to crisis later in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.
On a Saturday when New Zealand comprehensively swept away any doubt that they remain the team to beat and confirmed the pre-tournament predictions that they should retain their hegemony in southern hemisphere rugby, Salta provided evidence that the creaks that started to show themselves in the South African game in the second test against Wales may not have just been an aberration.
South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer hailed the character of his team Sunday in the wake of a lucky 33-31 Rugby Championship victory over Argentina in Salta.
Serial match-winner Morne Steyn ignored whistling and booing to slot a penalty three minutes from time and give the Springboks a second win over the Pumas within eight days.
It was the climax of a stirring last-quarter comeback by the visitors as tries from right-wing Cornal Hendricks and flank Marcell Coetzee wiped out a 12-point deficit.
The Springboks made three changes to their starting XV, with two of them effecting the line-out structures – which already appeared weak in Pretoria last week.
The line-out has long been a strength of the Boks, and a lot of this dominance in the set pieces can be attributed to the maestro that is Victor Matfield.
The veteran lock was sorely missed last weekend when the Boks’ line-out struggled, in albeit poor conditions, against the Argentineans at Loftus Versfeld.
Juan Smith will complete a remarkable return to international rugby when he runs out for the Springboks against Argentina in Salta on Saturday, in the Springboks’ second Test of The Rugby Championship (kick-off 21:40 SA Time).
Smith’s inclusion at flank is one of three changes to the starting 15, with a further four changes on the bench.
Gurthrö Steenkamp (prop) and Eben Etzebeth (lock) will start in the tight five, with Tendai Mtawarira and Bakkies Botha moving to the bench. Marcell Coetzee will join them amongst the replacements after coming in as a late substitute for the injured Willem Alberts last weekend.
The Springboks have landed in Argentina with no injury concerns, but Meyer will be forced to ponder the likes of fit-again Pat Lambie and Juan Smith.
Having come away from the wet and wild Loftus Versfeld with only an injury before the game to Willem Alberts, Meyer will have a full compliment to pick from when they play Argentina in Salta.
Meyer has now picked up Lions captain Warren Whiteley as cover for Alberts who is staying at home alongside Victor Matfield.
When the Springboks finished off their 2013 campaign with a victory over France in Paris, coach Heyneke Meyer spoke about the need for South African rugby to undergo revolutionary change in order to close the gap that the All Blacks enjoyed when it came to conditioning and mental strength.
At the start of the 2014 Castle Lager Rugby Championship, he continued the theme of revolution, this time talking about the need to bring greater intensity and tempo to the Bok game, to be able to out-think opponents now that the days of bludgeoning opposition with physicality are in the past.
The Springboks missed an ideal opportunity to put the pressure on New Zealand and Australia after the latter two sides drew 12-all in the first game of this year’s Rugby Championship at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney on Saturday.
To say the unseasonal Loftus monsoon made constructive rugby extremely difficult is an understatement, but one would like to believe that the Boks should have played the situation much better than Saturday’s 13-6 victory in their opener against Argentina in Pretoria.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is set to use a very different starting line-up when his team face off with Argentina in their Castle Lager Rugby Championship return fixture in Salta on Saturday.
While the Loftus Versfeld monsoon did little to answer questions ahead of the bigger clashes in this year’s Championship, it did at least give the Boks a solid start to the campaign and much food for thought ahead of the traditionally tough return fixture in Argentina.
Following a narrow win last year and a draw in 2012, the Boks know all too well how difficult the Argentinean experience will be for them, and are likely to bolster their squad with a number of senior players when they make their team selection on Wednesday.
The side arrived in Sao Paulo safely en route to Buenos Aires and will get there Monday evening South African time, meaning there will only be time for two training sessions before they transfer to Salta later in the week for the game.
Contrary to the expected dry conditions on the Highveld, the Springboks had to adapt to hail and torrential rain in their narrow 13-6 Rugby Championship opener against Argentina in Pretoria on Saturday.
“We really wanted to play exciting rugby. We picked an exciting backline as we thought we would have an open, running game on the Highveld,” Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said after the nail-biting match.
“I am very proud of the team. That game could have gone either way. A lot of the Argentineans play in Europe, where they are used to the conditions, and they forced us into a kicking battle.”