Time for a reality check

November 9, 2012
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Things in Springbok rugby are never normal or straight-forward, it always shifts between the insane and the absurd and this week there was a big swing towards the latter.

So now Heyneke Meyer is a racist…  What? Did the old Blue Bulls bias criticism become boring for folks?  Heyneke Meyer is many things, ignorant in his approach, management and loyalty to the known and conservative in his first season in charge perhaps, but a racist? Spare me.

Yesterday I shared some personal thoughts on a blog with regards to race and race relations in South Africa and South African rugby.  It came from a very personal and important stage in my life.  I am not going to bore you with this but the moral of the post was quite simply that race is an issue in South African rugby.  Engrained beliefs still exist in the minds of the South African generation that experienced Apartheid and our change to a democratic society.  I won’t make excuses for it and I am not going to pretend it does not exist.  But to suggest that public figures in a position like a national coach makes conscious decisions or takes deliberate actions based on a person race or with racist motives is nothing short of absurd.  Also, to think race is an issue isolated to our country is ridiculous – for me it’s positive that we at least deal with it head on as a nation and not sweep it under the carpet.

Let me state this as clearly as I possibly can; Heyneke Meyer makes rugby decisions when he selects a match-day 23 or a game strategy with the view on winning.  Should he be more aware of his responsibilities as a Springbok coach on matters outside of the actual rugby sphere? Sure – but there SA Rugby could guide him.  Criticise him all you want for his rugby decisions but please do not embarrass yourself by playing the race card when you run out of arguments for a sensible rugby debate.

As I continued to read through much of the rubbish posted on social media and certain blogs it also occurred to me that there is some sweet irony in all this.

Jake White, Peter de Villiers and now Heyneke Meyer have at some stage all been accused of stupidity, stubbornness, racism and having predictable, outdated game plans where all of them should have been fired long before their 4-year terms were up.  Read the archives, it’s all there!

In April this year before Meyer selected his first test squad I wrote a column saying Heyneke will face his toughest test in his rugby career.  I said he will need to guard against the perceptions of fans and the media and even though it is not the job of a rugby coach, he will need to build political and emotional bridges with fans and the media if he wants to avoid their wrath.  I am not even calling it a prediction because for someone to predict something it had to be an unlikely scenario of what’s to come for it to hold value – I was stating something as fact.

There is no special talent needed for that.  I simply took what happened over the previous 8 years since I started commentating on rugby and applied the formula to our current situation knowing it won’t fail – and it did not.

As pathetically predictable as that was, I must say I did enjoy the change in individuals defending the coach this time around many of who criticised the previous coaches on exactly the same issues.

On the positive side, it does seem that supporters are maturing a bit because this time around, more and more people are starting to ask the right questions or more specifically, identifying where the actual problem lies – our rugby structures.

Back to Heyneke, the only mistake he has made so far was to underestimate the environment he walked into.  That he is a successful and gifted coach was never a doubt in my mind, but his inability to manage the external pressures effectively is what has allowed this pressure cooker to get to the brink of blowing its top.

Heyneke is known to take teams in heaps of trouble and turn them into champions, and as someone on Twitter mentioned, with a psych major behind his name he will come out of this mentally tougher and hopefully instil that mental toughness in our players too.  He knows that for now results means everything, but if he does manage to stay his full 4-year term I have little doubt Meyer will turn one of our more exciting generation of young players into world beaters.

Let’s just hope he has enough balls to put up with the shit printed in the media.

Oh and for the record, I am a Heyneke groupie as Brendon correctly told me yesterday – and I am as proud to be a Heyneke groupie as I was being a Jake White and Peter de Villiers one.

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19 Comments

  1. avatar DavidS says:
    November 9th, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    I was a half a Jake groupie, not a Pieter De Villiers one and I am a Heyneke groupie…

    Good call Morne.

  2. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    November 9th, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Yep too true… ‘someone’ once said Bok supporter’s deserve what they get…

    HM has two more POC’s in his squad this EOYT than PDV had last year… hope for him and the team they can win three from three …

  3. avatar The Year of the Cheetah says:
    November 9th, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Compared to Peter Meyer has it easy. He is after-all one of ‘us’ so we cut him some slack.

    My kak in him started with ENG series and seeing us play as if our boys are not that geared up to be Boks.

    Bekkers performance VS Argie is a case in point.

    Just how uninspiring is HM to have players put in these kind of performances?

    Maybe the old boer way of us against them does not work to motivate other players?

    All that aside – If Boks look like they are trying to become #1 by playing enterprising 23 man rugby I will also be a groupie.

    Jake did this in 2004 and only in ireland game 2006 did I get pissed off at him for losing that game VS Ireland with a B team showing no respect for the heritage of Boks.

    Maybe HM is the antithesis of this?

    Or maybe he is just a dullard. So far I think the latter

  4. avatar Ollie says:
    November 9th, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    C’mon Morne, apply a similar formula to predict what difference a reality check will make to the attitude of SA fans towards the Bok coach. You know the answer already.

    If there is one thing I have learnt about South Africans, for as much as they laugh and joke, they love bitching.

  5. avatar Morné says:
    November 9th, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 12:41 pm:

    That is one clever guy that! :)

  6. avatar biltongbek says:
    November 9th, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    I don’t know who played the race card, but shame on you.

    I am neither a dteractor nor fan of heyenek Meyer, the same as I am neither a detractor or blinded supporter of any individual rugby player.

    Sometimes I am confused by what Meyer does, toehr times I understand (or at least try to) what he is doing.

    What I am though, is gatvol of sucking the hind tit when it comes to the All BLacks and Wallabies.

  7. avatar CanItReallyTakeThatLongToClearBallFromBaseofYetanotherPointlessRuck says:
    November 9th, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Common IRELAND !

  8. avatar Boertjie says:
    November 9th, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    HM did a lot of explaining about why
    he selected his run on 15 and the 23.
    I like this openness. You may differ
    from him, but he explains his way of
    thinking and selecting.

    As for black players – I get great
    pleasure when I see one in the team
    on pure merit. I feel for Juan de
    Jongh. I hope Rhule gets a chance.

    I don’t agree with HM keeping Hougaard
    on the wing when he has other options.

  9. avatar biltongbek says:
    November 9th, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Reply to CanItReallyTakeThatLongToClearBallFromBaseofYetanotherPointlessRuck @ 1:33 pm: Come on Ireland, or common ireland. :what:

  10. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    November 9th, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Reply to biltongbek @ 1:29 pm:

    The same 70% of fans who had previously cried he had Bulls glasses on only to be proven fools when doing a count of his squads…

    Oh and of course the politicians and about every black rugby writer in RSA after Taute was started over DeJongh and Jantje’s dropped out of the 22 for Morne… and all this despite his EOYT squad having two more POC’s that PDV last year… and despite them having a clue who he’ll play against Scotland…

  11. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    November 9th, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Reply to biltongbek @ 1:47 pm:

    Come-on Irene…

  12. avatar The Year of the Cheetah says:
    November 9th, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Maybe we should desist from playing the man and not the ball. Meyer is afterall just one person in the management collective in charge of the Boks.

    I simply then do not understand:

    # Selecting Duane Vermeulen who is nothing but a bashing cart horse. Predictable as hell and limited skills. Not the player you win 80% with.

    # Selecting Hougaard who is clearly lacking form, in any position. Yes Hougie still has ‘gees’ but his contributions on the field is no longer effective. Give him space and let him find his preferred possie? Or will he, like Habana, get two years to play himself into form at the highest level?

    # Jean De Villiers is so out of form, tired and slow and has always lacked the basic skills to be a world class 12. Thats why Munster dropped him and he returned home where for some reason he is beyond criticism. He is not the long term captain so why bother? His track record as a captain is abysmal so do we play him purely because he is the guy with the most caps?

    # Zane Kirchners inclusion for 3N tests I can understand. But what do we still need to see about this player on a year end tour? His inclusion smacks of a play-it-safe metality that might give us a narrow win but it merely deprives our future star of yet another cap at the highest level.

    All the above suggests we dont want to become world beaters, and its exactly this attitude that swung me from supporting Peters boks to rather following Oz and Wales.

    There is not more uninspiring than seeing a Bok team merely going through the motions. HM’s teams are masters at this (except for Dunedin when the players obviously felt they were going to lose so gave it their all – and almost won!)

    Stop cruising Boks!

  13. avatar DavidS says:
    November 9th, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 12:41 pm:

    DUDE

    Carlos v GSP…

    CALL IT!

  14. avatar DavidS says:
    November 9th, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Reply to biltongbek @ 1:47 pm:

    The Murph is beyond needing to comply with grammatical rules…

    Brenden

    # Vermeulen is Rocky Elsom = Kieran Read = them copying Daniesaurus…

    # Ag kak man… when last did you see him at wing?

    # JDV – you are lying.

    # Conceded but who else? There is nobody with everyone’s wet dream Lambie at 15…

    There is no extraction from that which suggests the conclusion you draw. If anything your conclusion holds no basis in the factors you mentioned.

  15. avatar The Year of the Cheetah says:
    November 9th, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Please do not mention vermeulen in Elsoms or especially Read’s presence. He is just not nearly as good.

    Hougie has been mucked about. My favourite player for the Boks but like Pienaar needs time away to go specialize.

    Show me JdV’s trophy cabinet? Show me his stats compared to most 12′s in the country. Show me his Bok credentials post 2008. Please do.

    Tuate wants to be a 15. Thats one option. There are many

  16. avatar Boertjie says:
    November 9th, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Reply to The Year of the Cheetah @ 2:46 pm:

    Some valid points.
    Nobody comes close to Read.

  17. avatar Vetgesmeerde Blits says:
    November 9th, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Good article

    I don’t see much wrong with disagreeing or criticizing the coaches selections
    or game plan.

    It’s the way it is done that really irks me. Supporters can disagree or criticize the coach
    all they want as long as they do it in a civil manner and base their argument on rugby.
    Calling a coach or player useless, dumb, a blue tinted glassed idiot ext. like we see
    on twitter and most rugby websites is not on and just plain irritating.

    The same goes for journalists and supporters with a “I know better than the coach” attitude.
    A supporter or journalist can disagree with the coaches decisions without pretending they, and only they, have the answer.

    I am not a Heyneke groupie, but he is a great coach with a great record who can turn
    the Boks into a real force.

  18. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    November 10th, 2012 at 12:41 am

    Reply to DavidS @ 2:37 pm:

    Hopefully gsp but it’s going to be tough for him after so long out and that hardcore knee surgery…

    Not to mention conduit is a genuine challenger/title holder w a similar style and w the same smart all round weaponry…

    Reply to Vetgesmeerde Blits @ 4:51 pm:

    spot-on! :boks:

  19. avatar DavidS says:
    November 10th, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Reply to Boertjie @ 3:12 pm:

    No – none of you nderstand what I am saying. In Brendan’s case it’s understandable because he refuses to.

    Nobody comes close to Read NOW.

    Five years ago when he began as a 6 he was outclassed by Juan Smith, Danie Rossouw, Jacques Cronje and a host of huge, mobile lock/loose forwards from SA.

    Today Read is the classy one but his style is totally exactly the same as those huge fast powerful jumping lineout option mobile Bok loosies of c. 2007/2008 of whom Pierre Spies was the ultimate incarnation until he wrecked his own career.

    In effect, while people like Brenden and some other tob and pontificate stupidly about “total rugby” and “heads up rugby” and have inferiority complexes about the All Blacks, Read is a carbon copy of a style and class of loose forward uniquely and innovated Bulls / Bok and which has been assimilated into Aus / AB rugby while we still pontifictae about wholesale changes…

    The fact is as I have stated before, Bulls rugby, and particularly Afrikaners’ rugby has introduced ALL the major innovations to rugby play of the past ten years and Heyneke Meyer has been at the forefront of those innovative changes along with coaches like Naka Drotske and Jake White and Gert Smal and Carel Du Plessis and Alistair Coetzee and Brenden Venter and Dawie Snyman and even Pieter De Villiers.

    But we have idiots with inferiority complexes too stupid to see how richly talented our coaching structures are or our coaches and simply stare themselves blind against the All Blacks’ style of rugby without realizing that the entire All Black structure is based on copying what works for others.

    Did you know that historically (Graham Henry even mentions it in his book) the All Blacks’ style of forward play was directly copied from the 1937 Springboks…

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