Heyneke Meyer will be the new Springbok coach after a Special General Meeting of the South African Rugby Union (SARU) ratified his proposed appointment in Cape Town on Friday.
The 44-year-old Blue Bulls rugby executive takes over from Peter de Villiers, who coached the Springboks from 2008 to 2011. He will take charge as head coach of the 1995 and 2007 Rugby World Cup champions for the first time against England in Durban on June 9.
Meyer said he relished the opportunity to make all South Africans proud of the Springboks.
“Having been involved with the Blue Bulls for so long, I’ve experienced first hand how passionate South African rugby supporters are,” said Meyer. “I know the importance of rugby in the South African psyche and will do everything in my power to ensure the Springboks remain among the pace setters of world rugby.
“I’m very happy to accept this enormous honour and massive responsibility,” he said.
Meyer was head coach of the Vodacom Bulls when they became the first South African team to lift the coveted Vodacom Super 14 trophy in 2007. Before that, he steered the Vodacom Blue Bulls to Absa Currie Cup titles in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006 (shared).
Meyer also has experience of coaching in the Springbok environment. He served as assistant coach to both Nick Mallett and Harry Viljoen at the Boks. He has also been a Springbok coaching candidate in the past.
“The first time I felt I still had things to achieve at the Bulls, and the second time it was decided to appoint someone else,” he said. “I’d like to thank my family and the Blue Bulls Rugby Union for their unwavering support over the past decade. I hope to keep the country’s rugby supporters united behind the Boks.”
Mr Oregan Hoskins, President of SARU, said Meyer received unanimous support from the General and the Executive Councils of SARU.
“The Springboks are SARU’s top priority,” he said. “Heyneke’s coaching pedigree is second to none in South Africa. He will be an asset to the Boks and South African rugby in general,” said Mr Hoskins.
“I’d also like thank our outgoing coach Peter de Villiers for his passion, hard work and dedication over the past four years. However, it was felt that we needed a man with a new approach and new ideas to take over one of the toughest jobs in South African sport.
“Heyneke has our full support and we know he won’t leave any stone unturned as he strives to take the Boks back to the top of international rugby.”
According to Jurie Roux, SARU CEO, Meyer’s appointment was the culmination of a thorough process during which the best candidates were evaluated as part of a head hunting process before the Exco unanimously opted to make a formal offer to Meyer.
“The Blue Bulls wished to retain his services but his contract contains an exit clause which has been exercised; very few people can resist the call when your country says it needs you,” said Roux.
“The Springboks are the heartbeat of rugby in South Africa and it was paramount to get the best possible candidate to coach the team going forward. We believe we have done that.”
Roux said decisions on Meyer’s support staff will only be taken later, in consultation with the new Springbok coach. “No appointments in this regard have been made,” he said.