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Meyer quits Bok job

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By Brendan Nel

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is gone.

The Bok coach decided eight days before his position was to be a talking point at the South African Rugby Union’s General Council to call it a day and informed his bosses he no longer wishes to be considered a candidate for the position.

While some newspapers had continuously run with the story that Meyer had signed a new contract and it was a done deal that he continue as Bok coach, nothing was ever the case, and Meyer chose to exit on his own terms, rather than wait for SARU to do it for him.

Despite leading the Springboks to third place at the Rugby World Cup, and losing an epic semifinal against the All Blacks by two points in the rain at Twickenham, Meyer was never forgiven by the public for losses against Argentina and Japan.
Ironically though, the loss against Japan came as his senior players – those he put so much faith in, and was vilified for – let him down by ignoring coaching calls during the game that has now become the Rugby World Cup’s greatest shock.

It is hardly surprising that Meyer chose to close the door on the Springbok job, after this week two provincial unions publicly called for a change, but what was surprising was the timing of the event, as Meyer decided to walk before he was pushed.
The Bok coach said he decided to stand aside as coach, “a decision he considers to be in the best interests of South African rugby”. But while his winning record was better than many of his predecessors, the losses to Japan and Argentina would forever haunt him.
That, as well as a controversial transformation record, were the main reasons why so many of the rugby public turned against him at the end of his four year tenure.

This despite the fact the Boks finished third in the World Rankings this year, one up from where they were when he took over the job, and a tenure that included two unbeaten end-of-year tours, a record breaking win over Australia in Brisbane (38-12), a Castle Lager Rugby Championship victory over Argentina (73-13) and the first away win in France in 16 years.
All in all the Boks scored a 66.7% winning record under Meyer, and scored 143 test tries – second only to the All Blacks in his time in charge.

The failure to win major trophies in a time when the All Blacks were dominant, and only one win in eight against the double World Champs also was a major drawback for the Boks.
Still, the Bok coach said he departs knowing he is doing what is best for the Springboks.
“I have always put the Springboks first in my time as coach and 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,” said Meyer.
“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.
“I have greatly enjoyed my time as Springbok coach – although it has been highly pressured at times and especially tough on my family, and I would like to thank them for their unwavering support in the last four years.

“I have put my heart and soul into the job and did my very best. I believe that, overall, I leave the team with much to look forward to in 2016, with new structures in place to ensure the Springboks will remain competitive on the world stage.
“The number of young players that have been blooded over the past four seasons, who chose to remain in South Africa, leave the team in a great position to move on in the next few years. I would like to wish the next coach all the success in this wonderful position.
“The Springboks are a special team and carrying the hopes of a nation is a huge responsibility and great privilege. I realised that yet again with all the support I received from ordinary South Africans, both at the World Cup and upon our return to the country. Thank you to the countless faithful, positive and passionate supporters that have made my job as coach a joy.

“To everyone at SARU and for the hard work and commitment of my management and support team, I will be forever thankful. And finally to the players – you are ultimately the reason why I coach and you’ve enriched my life in the last four years.”

While there was much criticism over Meyer’s tactics during his tenure, the coach is also largely responsible for many of the structures in place and a better working relationship with the Super Rugby franchises, as well as the move to a central contract system to try and keep talent in South Africa.
SARU president Oregan Hoskins thanked Meyer for his services to South African rugby.

“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 that our Strategic Transformation Plan is now in full swing,” said Mr Hoskins.

“Heyneke gave his all for the Springboks and it was a great pleasure to work with such a passionate South African. There were many highlights during his time as coach and those are the moments we will remember.

“He also set very high standards of behaviour for himself, his management team and his players and he was and is a credit to South African rugby. I’m sure all my colleagues join me in wishing him the very best of luck in whatever coaching path his career now takes him.”

SARU said that the search for a successor would begin immediately.
The CEO will present the process of recruitment as per the recommendation of the High Performance Committee for approval to the Executive Council on Wednesday, after which it will be shared with the provincial unions at the General Council meeting two days later.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. Cheers Boet and thanks for your contribution. Its a pity you did not get this job in 2008 when it was your time. Right man at the wrong time.

    Please lord dont give us Coetzee now, because as fans we cannot watch another SA team trying its best to not lose, as the Stormers have done for years under Coetzee.

    Allistar is the only guy in the world who with a team of backline superstars could become known for how well they defend….

  2. This guy with a backline of Jacques Fourie, Habana, De Jong, Aplon and De Villiers consitently scored less tries in Super Rugby than anyone else.

    Nee hemel

  3. Thanks Heyneke… you have left more youngsters exposed to Bok structures and test rugby than any of your predecessors… an excellent base moving forward… just a pity you could not stay and build on that with a few new assistants…

    Bitter sweet…

  4. Really sad to see yet another coach go after 4 years, still believe we need to invest in a longer period in one man and have the structure to have him replace within a structure

    At the end Meyer was his biggest enemy this years and panic cause him to make decisions that result in a piss poor year.

    Although nit all god he did do allot for the Boks and I am piss scared who SARU are going to pick now, hope there are a plan and not the same old lets see what the next sucker can do in 4 years

    SA must also grow some balls we have become predictable in our ways to blame only one man

  5. Sounds like a v decent man.

    Huge of him to say it’s time for a change. He picked who he wanted and carried the can, no excuses. He has given his all, probably regrets not being a bit braver, but definitely a v decent guy. Wish him all the best.

  6. All in I am happy to see the end of Meyer and his over sentimental bloedbroers bullocks. I have however long been a staunch critic of Coetzee for his pragmatism and he is not going to change, so with him at the helm I will take another 4 years supporting Oz.

    Please please please for once do something radical and ambitious and appoint someone with vision and a bit of balls.

  7. Robbie Deans on a 2 year deal to groom Ackerman with sidekick Hawies Fourie. Now put that in your pipe and smoke it.

  8. Appont mitchell end of.

    Let him the best SA has to offer and see what happens – take a gdam punt.

  9. @cab: Mitchell has been around SA too long to get caught up in the kak and drama. I say fly someone in with true objectivity.

  10. This solves nothing….we need to determine and understand the root cause to the question, why does each National team, without fail regress after the first two years of their 4 year cycle?

    The Bulls played phenomenal rugby under Meyer, and those first two years under Meyer the Boks looked awesome….

    Is the politics too much? Is there too much pressure placed on the coach to beat NZL and take no 1 from them?

    Because there is a clear difference between when a new coach start and when he finishes…..

  11. @Sasori:

    New ideas of course.

    The Bok coach does not spend alot of time with a group, so you can basically have someone with new ideas come in every 2 years.

    Meyer made a monster mistake to not replace or add to his coaching team, whereas White did the Jones thing.

    In stark contrast I reckon the Kiwis borrowed big time from Canes and Highlanders this year because those two defined the game in 2015.

    Meyer could have gone to Ackers but the latter, although doing something new and exciting were yet to see real results for it, so you can see Meyers thinking.

  12. Bye Heyneke and thanks for your contribution to the Bok cause. It would be silly to not acknowledge your contribution and in 2013 it was a real pleasure watching the Boks play.

    The two sticking points for me in your tenure, which I believe did not help your cause, was the choice of support staff (an experienced ex international coach like White with Jones, or Hansen with Smith, would have made a huge difference I believe) who seemed very lightweight all things considered. When deficiencies became clear (our pathetic inaccurate kicking for one), getting a real kicking coach in would have made a difference I believe. Secondly your misplaced trust in old players, who, if we can believe Brendan Nel’s comment above, dropped you badly when you could least afford it.

    It was widely published that senior players lead the revolt against Pdivvy that lead that him to stand back on the types of changes he wanted to make and if the same is now true of Heyneke’s tenure, I for one am very happy to see the back of most them.

    Again, go well Heyneke, and I believe you will enjoy your next four years as head coach of the Stormers. Welcome home, it has been while since you were part of the Stormers coaching team.

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