The 2015 Rugby World Cup (RWC) recently held in England was not a total disappointment for the Springboks and the country. The Springboks played in what was has been billed as the two best matches of RWC, against Japan and New Zealand. Unfortunately, the Springboks were on the receiving end of both matches but the All Blacks match was an epic brutal encounter that we have come to expect from these two great teams.
A semi-final exit against the All Blacks was an improvement on the 2011 RWC in New Zealand when the Wallabies knocked the Springboks out in the quarter-finals. But 2015 has been a disappointment for the Springboks and South African rugby. Ending last in a shortened Rugby Championship without a win and losing to the Argentine for the first time, marked a poor year for Springbok rugby. If the Springboks are to once again regain their former iconic status then the South African Rugby Union (SARU) need to show leadership and make a few hard decisions.
The most important decision must be to replace Heyneke Meyer as coach with immediate effect. Meyer with his conservative approach and blue DNA is the main reason why the Springboks have been poor the last four years. He does not have the confidence to play an attacking brand of rugby that the modern day game demands or how to evolve a team with youth. In short he has no strategies with regards to a game plan, selection, generation change and management of players. He lacks the X-factor, characteristic of great coaches who have the ability to get their teams to play 20% above their potential and win the big moments.
If SARU have concluded a contract for R5 million a year with Meyer, then they are guilty of mismanagement of South African rugby. On what grounds have they extended the contract of a coach with his poor record? He has not won a Rugby Championship and only beaten the All Blacks once in seven outings. If Jake White, who won the Tri-Nations and World Cup, and Peter de Villiers, who also won the Tri-Nations, a Lions Series and beat the All Blacks five times (three of them in New Zealand) did not have their contracts renewed, on what ground has Meyer’s?
The interviews Meyer has given since his return from the RWC are proof of a man who is out of touch with reality. He says that that he is proud of the team’s performance on winning a bronze medal. If this was another nation, like Wales, one could understand it, but for the Springboks it is only just acceptable. Also, he says that the team he has built is on the verge of being invincible. Where is he coming from? Sure there are some fantastic young players in the team but the Springbok team needs to be rebuilt with regards to a different game plan, sustainable combinations and identifying talent that is well managed. Meyer is not the man. He has proved that the last four years; he needs to go.
South African rugby needs to appoint a coach who has a modern management style and who plays positive rugby that brings results and pleasure to a rugby mad country. In Johan Ackerman, Allister Coetzee and Franco Smith South Africa have the coaches, but will SARU be brave enough to give them that opportunity..?