Home Q&A Q&A with Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer

Q&A with Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer


Heyneke Meyer and his team have done what no other team were able to do in the past two years, in beating the All Blacks yesterday at Ellis Park .

We were able to put some questions to him from our regulars here as Ruggaworld.


Springbok Coach Heyneke Meyer
Springbok Coach Heyneke Meyer

Davids – Heyneke the general media is criticising your team’s playing style as being staid and old fashioned as compared to say, New Zealand. How do you respond to criticism that your are simply rehashing the game plan that your Bulls played a decade ago using more or less the same players as the basis of that game plan?

Coach:  I don’t necessarily agree with those assertions – the game has evolved over the last number of years, but the basics are still the same and those have to be in place…and those Bulls teams played superb rugby, such as the 92-3 win over the Reds in 2007 and the 61-17 win over the Chiefs in the Vodacom Super Rugby Final in 2009.

We want to score tries and play with the ball in hand – last year we scored the most tries of any Test team in the world – but this year we’ve had some bad weather for a couple of games and then you have to be able to adapt. I think the best example would’ve been the last 10 minutes at Newlands against Australia – on the back of imposing ourselves on the game with our traditional strengths, we played the situation well, in the right areas of the field and the players made great decisions.

The first half against New Zealand at Ellis Park was also very good from an attacking point of view.

Bekke – How difficult is it to balance the roles of coach and selector at this level?

Coach: A massive part of coaching is selection and I’ve always maintained that at this level, with the amount of time available for actual coaching, my role is more of a manager of people and roles in the team. But you have to ensure the right guys are selected to play so that is a big part of the game.

Aldo – We have a problem at nine, what are the contingency plans, should fourie du preez not be available come 2015? And you’ve been able to develop a lot of fine young players as a provincial coach. Does being an international coach help you to develop more young talent or prevent you from developing young players?

Coach: We are now in a position, with Fourie and Ruan out, that we simply have to bring through youngsters. Hougie was very good at Newlands, Cobus has improved a lot this season and we’ve also worked with Jano Vermaal, Piet van Zyl and Louis Schreuder, so there is a bit of depth.

I’d like to think the job of developing players should happen lower down, but we’re sometimes forced to do a lot of our own work on players as well, so I suppose you can say it’s a shared role at the moment in some instances.

Ollie – Heyneke, is there a plan to bring younger players through before the RWC next year, particularly in the front row where Jannie, Bismark and Beast seem to be showing signs of fatigue? And what do the statistics say about our kick & chase game against the AB’s? Whenever we run the ball with intention of breaking the gain line (not Jean crashing it up) we seem to be dangerous and score (like the try last weekend), so what is the reason for not running it more against the AB’s?

 Coach: Like I said earlier, we want to run with the ball and score tries – we know we can do it if the situation allows it, but we also take the conditions into consideration and sometimes you don’t have a choice but to kick for territory.

I get very upset if the guys don’t kick with a plan and that should always be to get the ball back – something the All Blacks do very well. They’ve outkicked us in all five matches since 2012 so we have to get better in that regard.

Then, looking at developing youngsters, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that we have brought through a couple of youngers upfront, such as Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Frans Malherbe and Marcel van der Merwe.

Hooker is a bit more different because I believe that, in Adriaan Strauss, Bismarck du Plessis and Schalk Brits we have the three best hookers in the world. Scarra Ntubeni is now back from his injury problems and I’m interested to see how he goes.

Welshbok die Brandwag – With the worldcup being in England next year going strongly into Autumn, your team is more likely than not going to play in cold slow muddy very wet conditions. Is our 1st choice front row (Beast, Bismrk and Jannie)suitable for those conditions? And What is your idea with the omission of Heinrich Brussouw who is a specialist fetcher? Surely we need a specialist who can play towards the ball on the ground when facing the likes of Warburton (Wales) and Pockock (Aus), who continually caused us damage in the previous World Cup. We support you as a coach, you’ve done very good work for the boks, thanks for keeping us proud as supporters.

Coach:Thanks for the kind works Welshbok. I think our pack has proved in the last two seasons they know how to play in Northern Hemisphere conditions and I’m confident in the guys we have for next year. They are experienced and can adapt to any conditions.

Regarding the flank position – I’ve worked with Heinrich and you have to remember that he’s had a fair share of injury problems in the last couple of years. In the same breath, we have in Francois Louw and Marcell Coetzee two brilliant opensiders who are world class, but we also want other players to be able to steal, where Adriaan, Bismarck and Duane play a massive role, but also backs such as Jan Serfontein and JP Pietersen.

Americano – Hi Coach Meyer, Just wanted to hip you to the fact that state-side you & Messerschmitt-Willie LeRoux are considered celebrities & the “Bees Knees”. Question….How has your incorporation of Messerschmitt-Willie & watching him play changed the way you coach – even in a nuanced way? Have you gleaned any drills that you’ve noticed about his situational awareness, his passing or his use of space? Thanks Coach Meyer. It’s a hoot for me to ask a question to you as I think you are “the tip of the arrow” in terms of global rugby innovation.

Coach: Thanks for the vouch of confidence there Americano, it’s much appreciated. Willie is a special player and we want to enable him to play the position as much as possible as he sees it. He’s worked very hard on his tactical awareness and has always had that X-factor, so if we can get him to work his magic in the right areas of the field, great things will happen.

Cab – What is the reason for picking the older guys like Victor, Jacque and Schalk?

Coach: Hi Cab – I think you would’ve seen the value they add on the field in the last 30 minutes against Australia at Newlands. But what you won’t see, is the value they add off the field, working with the youngsters, helping them improve and teaching them the tricks of the trade which you can only learn through years of experience.

I’ll never pick a player if I don’t think he can add some form of value to our team and these guys have done that in abundance.

OutWide – Heyneke, congratulations on the team selected and Springboks performance in Wellington last week. That defensive display was awesome with the Boks having to make twice as many tackles as the AB’s.

Firstly the media have reported you as being impressed by size and that you would not consider dynamic players such as Whitely “because they are too small”. Instead we have seen 120 kg players like Willem Alberts amongst the loose forwards. Yet last Saturday we had a great mix of loosies in Flo, Coetzee and Vermuelen, with Whitely coming on to good effect to replace Louw when injured. That is a great set of loosies and more in line with the highly mobile AB loose forwards who are all in the 105 – 112kg range. Have you changed your approach and gone for mobility rather than bulk?

My Second Question, that Hendricks try from Pollards reverse pass was as good as McCaw’s try and shows that the team can take the initiative. The Boks have been accused in the past of kicking away possession and waiting for the opponents to make mistakes in their half which may have happened given the tackle count last Saturday but are we going to see more attack from the side given the appearance of more adventurous players such as le Roux and Pollard?

Coach: Thanks Outwide…I’ll answer then separately. 1) Mobility and bulk are both very important and with the way the game is being played at the moment and the amount of time the ball is in play, it’s all about having guys that is conditioned to play a lot more rugby in 80 minutes than was the case a number of years ago.

In the balance of the loose trio, there always has to be cover for 6 and 8, which makes guys like Schalk Burger and Warren Whiteley great to have involved as they can literally cover any position in the back row.

Then for 2) Yes, always…if the situation allows. That move was worked out a while ago and it was almost the first time we were in a position to execute it. As I’ve said, we want to play with ball in hand and score tries – our attacking play is very important.

Jacques(Bunny) – You have been in the hot seat for 3 years, have you achieve your goals which you set out when you started and what were those goals?

Coach: Thanks Jacques for the support. My main goals are to make a difference in the lives of people and to make our country proud – it’s a continuous thing for me, so I can’t really say if I’ve achieved them. But I have seen the way people react to the Springboks and that makes me very proud, but also very humble to be in the position I’m in at the moment.

Thank you coach for taking the time to answer our questions we are behind you all the way.

Leave a comment


  1. His Coach,
    With one of the biggest talent pools in the world
    how come you’ve beaten the AB only once?

  2. O-M-F-G…..

    Bunny my adoration for you in this moment after seeing this borders on ….
    So I better dial it back for preservation of my future awesome afterlife & just sincerely say….

    Thanks & I appreciate you & your effort!!!

  3. HMstein responded to my question….
    He didn’t answer it.
    I don’t blame him for this. I blame the % of journos & fans of the sadistic bent he’s used to dealing with for this.
    Had he not been raked over the coals 1,000,000,000 times by these guys setting “gotcha” traps I know HM would have opend his heart & responded authenically to me.

    Due to this we all have missed out on Messerscmitt-Willes inspired drills HM has conjured up for his team & its a pity.

  4. Loved him saying that they are training the players to play situations. Also the call on the Hendricks try… they’re playing the situation according to a trained structure…

    F**king awesome…


    In 2007 I also interviewed him at the start of the SR (which he won that year) and asked him about Bryan Habana’s role and his attitude was that talent like that cannot be coached, just nurtured and permitted to act, which meant he let Habana have a lot of freedom to play situations as he saw fit without the risk of being criticised for not playing game plan or structures.

    This answer to you is exactly the same re Willie. Nurture the talent and let it free… instead of Willie being forced to play the game plan of the team the team is to play to Willie when Willie has the ball. When you have percocious natural genius like that it is an excellent attitude to have.

  5. @Duiwel:

    Waddefok wil jy hê Duiwel

    1. Last year we scored the most tries of any side in the world.

    2. We have not lost a game on EOYT since Piet Helium “coached” the Boks.

    3. He has lost 7/33 tests 2 v Aus and 5 v NZ..

    4. Not since Kitch Christie have we had a coach who is unbeaten in the NH…

    5. He became the first Bok coach since Nic Mallett to beat the French in France

    6. He agrees we’re not good enough yet, but instead of being pissed by losses we’re now pissed about wins.

    7. ONLY England two years ago (an England team we then proceeded to hand a p03$klap to a week afterwards) and us have beaten this NZ side on three seasons.

    Ek herhaal

    Waddefok wil jy hê?

  6. Hy irreteer my ook maar dit is moolik om iemand what irrationaal is in sy idees met logise argumente aan te vat … Ek dink daar was n hele paar Meyer haaters voor hy bok afrigter geword het, en dit maak nie saak hoe goed die man is nie hulle haat hom nog…

    Skuus my afrikaans, ek is n Afrikaner 100% maar 6 jaar in Kanada het my moeder liederlik verswak

  7. I think I called then ‘oompies’ in my question

    I respect this chap a lot, I hope it’s not an act. I just get frustrated when they keep picking these older players. Schalk and Matfield in their prime were untouchable but I don’t want the Boks to lose out with the current talent we have. The work behind the scenes does count a lot, but there must be a balance – I’m afraid the balance is too far biased towards experience.

    I do applaud HMs selections in picking hougaard, pollard and oupa – this took balls of steel but more important it showed an ability to chance tack – that said, I feel he had to cos wed just been beaten by oz and the welsh and argies prob should have beaten us too.

  8. Duiwel talks the truth – we’ve won 1 match in. 6 v the kiwis and some v ordinary showings – the welsh should’ve beaten us in SA (which is pretty much undreamed of)

    Its one thing picking brave new selections when your first choices are injured and when there’s nothing left to win after losses in oz and nz, but the proof of the pudding is now about to come up.

    Nz spanked us in Wellington – the 14-19 scoreline was completely flattering to the Boks, the stats were horrendous – in fairness tho that bok 1st half v nz at Ellis was uitmentende uitstekende spel, the kiwis ain’t been stuffed up their dutpipes like that since the apple fell on Adams head while checking eve out.

    However, we’ve been calling all along for a boils tweed lock (etsebeth(, Bismarck to start, a new blindside option (not Coetzee who is too light) and most important hougaard at 9 and a running flyhalf at 10. What’s the bet we go back to 10-man rugby once fdp and kie fit again?

  9. @cab: No change in hell…Bokke will keep developing this game plan, also nothing wrong with a kicking game like the AB have…if they decide to play it…in NH you will have to have both to succeed.

  10. If there’s no change in gameplan, the Boks will get beaten

    This team win because of the massive momentum build through the impetus of beast, Bismarck, etsebeth and vermeulen upfront, and because of a a halfback combo that takes it to the line.

    Go back to 10-man rugby and Boks will lose, badly, you can almost tell what’s going to happen just by looking at the selections. Could be some big surprises coming up.

  11. Jacques,

    Ja kicking is important, but I get worried about our emphasis on it. Ollie asks a running rugby Q and get a kicking response. Yes kicking and defence are all aspects if the game , but the is a reason we were called the Springboks and not the skoppende volstruise. Cos we run the mothers off the ball.

    Now don’t get me wrong – we have 2 strengths:
    1) a good fokmaarvoort dynamic pack
    2) a couple of really dangerous playmakers and strike runners

    Play to your strengths first and foremost and pick the players and gameplan to do so. You want to worry about boxkicking away possession, drop kicking , up and understand and defence by all means – but this game is first and foremost about scoring tries. This us what New Zealand do / forget their kicking game , you think anyone picking dagg and those 2 wingers for their kicking game?

  12. And actually the springboks are at their v best when there is no gameplan apart from go fokken completely bossies.

    That is why the first half was so good via they just hit the ABs with everything they had, and they blew them right off the park, it wasn’t even close – but then what happened, the subs came on to close the game out with ‘structure’ and carefully targeting kicking and discipline ABs everything was reversed – but for a last minute kick, ABs would’ve made it 6 from 6.

  13. @cab:

    Dude WTF must he do to convince his detractors???

    In 1998 he was Mallett’s forwards coach

    In 1999 he coached SWD to a frigging CC semi final… their only one ever.

    Between 2000 and 2007 the Bulls was the rugby team all the local sides measured themselves againt. If you beat the Bulls you were something. And SR after 2005 to 2009 they were basically THEE premiere side of SA in SR… all his players.

  14. @cab:

    England beat the world playing a ten man game.

    The Henry All Blacks won RWC with a ten man game in 2011.

    You know what… if the situation requires it play the ten man game… THAT is what situational coaching and trust in pplayers is all about.

  15. Who else thought that we exposed Dagg big time as a kak defender yesterday?

    His playing days in black are, to my mind, numbered. Kiwi blogs today are VERY ticked.

  16. DavidS

    Some v good things, but some v ordinary too. We’ve see. Some sure kicking shut this year and some v iffy staid selections of once great player plying their trade in Japan.

    England are England – our team are the Springboks , we should donner them upfront and run rings around them outwide when in song – that is why we should be no 1 and not no 2.

  17. @DavidS:

    Remember the 1987 Currie Cup final…

    Northern Transvaal tried to run at Transvaal and then the hail came down… Naas Botha changed the game plan to ten man… BANG… Northern Transvaal win the CC Final

  18. I believe Meyer is actually giving his players more of the opportunity to play what is in front of them.

    The more they play the better they will get… yes when pressure comes they do fall back to their old game plan, but the more they play the more this this will become the norm for Bok rugby, but I believe like Nick said last night the Super Rugby teams needs to adopt this as well to exceed.

  19. Dagg is bladdy gone, the backup is Cory Jane who is arguably even better in my mind – frightening shit. They got a Lomu lookalike on one wing and a great finisher on the other.

    HM done v well in selecting Hendricks – showed a lot if heart defending against one rolling truck in savea, bounced off and header straight back in, Coetzee also put a massive hit on him – great stuff. The Boks were all exceptional on sat, esp 1st half, but fkme if we can’t get up for ABs at Ellis, then its time to start with the Viagra and a cup of cocoa in the evenings

  20. Lomu never scored against the Boks, I think the same with Savea.

    Joost said some time ago the AB played the wrong game with Lomu against the Boks and they do the same with Savea.

    You could see that on Saturday as well they wanted to get the ball to him at all cause.

    For some reason big dudes like him struggle to score against the Boks.

    AB back three is the best their is and we still need to get ours to work with Willie to come close.

  21. Yep our backline outstanding – JP is the best winger of the lot. Le roux brilliant – best in the game.

  22. @Jacques(Bunny):

    The only team that is lagging in this respect I think are the Stormers.

    But the issue with big dudes and the Bokke is the Bokke have this bloody minded idea we are the biggest and best and NOBODY gets past us.

    Cab as a matter of interest Hendriks got run over three times by Savea… and missed him every single time.

    He was subbed after another like that occurred on 52 minutes. On that occasion he was saved by Hougaard and Le Roux cross cover smothering Savea out. He, as a wing, got beaten to a ball in a straight line sprint by a frigging inside center… not the fastest runner in NZ’s team… He is kak.

    And De Villiers exactly the same on defence…

    Our backline is NOT brilliant… yesterday was good but there is still masses of improvement needed before next season.

  23. Oom D
    Ek wil graag hè dat die doos
    meer as een fokken game teen die fokken kiwis wen
    in fokken drie jaar

    En nie hoef te fokken bid vir n ma se skop
    in die fokken 79ste fokken minuut na drie fokken jaar se fokken wag

    Is dit fokken duideliker Oom?

  24. And while he is at it-Kan hy Dari wp poepol kaptein leer
    om te fokken tekkel en fokken paas of van hom fokken ontslae raak
    en my nie die “fokken great in defense -poep te voer nie.
    ek ken die reuk van die kak wat hy praat
    Dankie Oom

  25. assorry,
    Ek haat nie die langkous,veldkous blouballas nie
    Ek wil net hè hy moet die kiwis wen meer as een keer innie
    FOKKEN DRIE JAAR met n ma se skop in die Fokken79ste minuut.
    Is dit te fokken veel gevra.
    En as hy nie kan kak nie
    Klim vannie fokken pot af en gee die jop
    Vir iemand wat kan.

  26. @Duiwel: Fokken fok fok, my ma se fok, sy fokken fokker fooook…

    Hope that makes sense to you, I dont normally speak dumbass, but thought I try and talk at your level :pot:

  27. No sense at all.
    Although you have a natural talent
    you’re shit at it.
    A bit like HM at beating the AB

  28. CAB –
    I grant you your rants, but please get the stats right.
    Score in Wellington was 10-14 and touch and go in the last 5 minutes.

    DUIWEL –
    Dis vir jou seker moeilik om te sluk aan HM se wenrekord van 75,5 – beste sedert Kitch.

    DAWIE –
    Correct. Hendricks makes as many tackles as he misses. Excellent wing, better than JPP IMO, but he should be
    taught how to tackle.
    Did he have the same problem playing sevens?

  29. @Boertjie:

    Hendricks can tackle… his tactical awareness is just not where it should be yet at this level…

    Tackling Savea is like tackling Lomu… it’s almost impossible one-on-one…

  30. @bryce_in_oz:
    agreed. Tough one to tackle that. Look what he did to beast. Almost felt bad. Boks did well. They better prepare for a revenge next year. Back lash. Meyer still has much to prove but has done well to advance the side. Never been a big fan of the man but he better have something to show for by the end of next season. Keen to see how they handle England . Huge test.

  31. I don’t think HM should be held accountable for 2012.
    2012 was pre-Messerschmitt-Willie. There was zero offense.
    2013 vs ABs does not count either due to Poite terrorism in NZ & the contest in SA wasn’t even due to having to chase 4 tries.
    HM has been incremental in his excellence.

    It’s like he just parked his car & dropped the keys on the floorboard in the dark. He hasn’t grabbed them yet but he knows where they are & its just a matter of time.

  32. @Duiwel What would you like, A bok side that loses to Scotland and Ireland on the NH tour but beat the AB’s at home? We had that in the previous coaches.

    To be fair to HM – AB’s at the Moment are the best Team in the world and NO OTHER Team are entitled to be that unless they WORK for it, let the Bokke work for it and get to that Level consistantly. This was a big step towards that. The way the Bokke played for most parts showed we can Play more than one game, the win showed that we are good enough and the Players will build on that. The win allthough Close/lucky etc was a big step Forward for this Team and the Young Players in the squad…
    Sport is a constant developement, you never reach perfection, not even the AB’s who have been GREAT for 3 seasons and for that they deserve respect. The bokke being the 1st Team to beat them since 2012 alse deserve respect. I and we all hope that it will become a regular occurance but that is not gaurenteed because no Team in the world stops developing and strive to be the best.
    In Sport it all Comes down to :respek:

  33. Okay okay so basically for his tenure to be a success world cup glory is required. Must note. Meyer has discovered what we would call the player of the year in the world. Thor. Willie . Handre. Cornal . To name a few. I personally was not a fan but he has created a good blend.

  34. Even the IRB see this win a big thing…..Duiwel :soek:

    The Boks have made inroads on the All Blacks’ lead at the top of the IRB rankings following their dramatic 27-25 victory at Ellis Park on Saturday.

    The Boks’ ranking points increased from 89.27 to 90.41, while New Zealand’s dropped 1.15 rating points from 93.57 to 92.60.

    Argentina have moved into the top 10 after their 21-17 win over the Wallabies in Mendoza. They earned two ranking points to leapfrog Japan and Fiji.

    The Wallabies were dealt another blow, as they were replaced by England in the top three, slipping from 87.07 to 85.07 rating points.

    Poor Aussies, almost feel sorry for them…not :brownie:

  35. Okay – some soft support for Duiwel:

    In this entire series we played well in
    the last 10 min v Aussies, 5 min v NZ and
    then say 40 minutes vs NZ.

    The rest of the time there seems to have
    been some chisel up the Boks’ arses.

    OK, and NZ and Aus had 0 minutes of good
    rugby in their first encounter.

  36. Eventually Boer makes sense – yip 10 mins v oz and 45 min v me Zealand has pretty much been the sum total of greatness.

    Boks should’ve lost to wales and Argie – pure luck

  37. SA not yet mechanized like ABs.
    HM lost time with the 12/13 & #9 dramas played out this year.
    Bryce from the onset was all over those points like a cheap suit.
    So its a way to go but HM finally popped that cherry & this milestone should be acknowledged & relished.
    EOYT its back to work & back to HM being the most hen-pecked man in the land.

    I will be bummed if PDV gets Zim coach because my pikc is….
    BC !!!

  38. Good to hear BC.
    It will be interesting to hear what comes of it ( of course you’ll let us know ).
    I have a feeling you drive a hard bargain BC – I hope you’ll remember to be fair
    I personally think you should get the Zim gig but they haven’t reached out to me for my opinion. Some just insist on the “hard way” oh well.

    Bunny I think this should be DV’s theme song. DavidS may get his shorts in a knot over it claiming its his already but…he’s not a famous sportsman like DV so I think that will mitigate any fuss.
    Theme Song….

  39. Yeah Bunny this vers of Seek & Destroy is with Dave Mustaine who moved to Megadeth.
    Duane was this song this RC.

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