The sands of time have surely run out on Heyneke Meyer. The Springboks’ humiliating defeat to Japan simply has to be the last straw. I might just be one guy but as a patriotic South African who wants what is best for this country, in rugby and every other front, I would like you join me in adding #MeyerOut at the end of your various social media postings. The talk of this man being offered a fresh deal at the South African Rugby Union (SARU), if not questionable a month ago, is now utterly absurd.
When Meyer took charge of South Africa’s national rugby team he had a good enough CV, having won the Super 14 title in 2007 with the Bulls; the first time a franchise from this country had won that trophy. Many felt he was unfairly passed over for the Bok job in 2008 in favour of Peter De Villiers, a man who SARU president Oregan Hoskins admitted was appointed not only for rugby reasons. With the benefit of hindsight we now know that De Villiers is the second most successful Springbok coach since readmission against New Zealand’s All Blacks. The first black Bok coach beat the Kiwis five times in 11 outings, including two triumphs in the land of the long white cloud. Meyer has beaten the men in black just once in seven attempts as per the table below.
|VS ALL BLACKS||P||W||D||L||%|
|Peter De Villiers||11||5||0||6||45.45|
Statistically the former Bulls boss is the fourth-most successful SA coach post isolation as can be seen in the following table:
|Peter De Villiers||48||30||0||18||62.50|
|Carel Du Plessis||8||3||0||5||37.50|
However upon closer inspection it is clear the man has lost the plot. Meyer has led the Springboks to five defeats in their last six Test matches. These include disastrous defeats to Argentina and Japan. One can still understand that, if Los Pumas are going to play in the Rugby Championship, it is inevitable that eventually they will start beating the South Africans, Australia and New Zealanders. But Japan?
Let us put this in perspective. They have a league that is rich and growing in reputation so it is also just a matter of time before they become competitive. But there is a difference between being able to compete and stopping the best sides in their tracks. Without contradicting myself I want to say it is great for the global game if we have another strong side but at this particular point in history should the Brave Blossoms be beating the Boks?
For starters their forwards weighed a collective 100 kilograms less than their counterparts in green and gold. This is an area South Africa has always prided itself in yet the much smaller Japanese pushed and shoved the Springboks around at will, including a pushover try. Perhaps that is what happens when the coach selects players out of position.
Schalk Burger is a flank but now scrums down at eight. Willem Alberts suffered a pre-match injury and instead of promoting the only other loose forward in the match day squad, Siya Kolisi, into the starting XV, Meyer opted to place Pieter-Steph Du Toit in the number 7 jersey. Du Toit is a great player but he is no flank. Let us not forget how Meyer chose to play Jesse Kriel on the wing at the expense of Lwazi Mvovo. I have said enough of late about transformation. You can work out for yourself how in anyone’s right mind a white lock starts on the side of the scrum ahead of a black flank.
I mentioned earlier how Meyer has lost five of his last six Tests. It should be noted how on three of those occasions, the South Africans were in winning positions going into the last 10 minutes. In Brisbane against the Wallabies, Johannesburg versus the All Blacks, and in Brighton on Saturday South Africa successfully snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and this is perhaps Meyer’s greatest failure. The Springboks have seldom been a side that plays enterprising rugby but one thing they have always prided themselves on is their defence and ability to close out games. Now that the power to secure victory in a tight finish has diminished the Boks are effectively rendered useless and there is only one man who must be held responsible for that.
Much has been said of the squad’s average age, the “dad’s army” rhetoric and the number of old men considered well past their sell-by-date. True as that might be, they did not select themselves. South Africa will probably bounce back and grind out narrow, ugly wins against Samoa, Scotland and the United States of America to qualify for the quarter-finals where Meyer’s tactical bankruptcy will be shown up harshly against a host nation England or streetwise Australia.
If Jurie Roux and the suits at SARU have any common sense at all they will call off whatever negotiations have already taken place with Meyer over a contract extension immediately and find a man who will restore pride and passion in the national rugby team.