Is Meyer the Bok saviour?

2012-02-11 00:00

ALL hail the Special One. He who has been anointed as the saviour of Springbok rugby, Heyneke Meyer, the new Springbok coach!

Well, at last the wishes of all those who have been lamenting the appointment of Peter de Villiers ahead of Meyer four years ago, have been granted and all will be well with the Springboks again. Or will it?

The fact is we know all too well that the success of Springbok rugby is much more, no; way much more than he who coaches the team. Success of the Springboks comprises a complex mix of boardroom politics, provincialism, transformation, commercial sustainability/instability, politics and many smaller undercurrents which tend to influence the way the national team perform.

Meyer’s success as Springbok coach will depend on how well he manages all these factors during his tenure as Springbok coach. The former Blue Bulls coach’s appointment was welcomed without exception — even I can’t find any fault with that. He is certainly the best we have available at the moment and he has demonstrated that he has the pedigree to coach the national team.

I was on the interview panel which interviewed Meyer for the vacant Blue Bulls coaching job way back in 2000, when Eugene van Wyk’s tenure at Loftus Versfeld came to an end. I recall how he distinguished himself through a highly professional presentation in which he demonstrated how effective and efficient management systems and processes are critical for accurate talent identification and player management in the rapidly evolving rugby environment of the time.

He argued that these were “non-negotiables” for success in the modern version of the game.

I remember how he elaborated on the emotional needs of players and how the management of these was highlighted as a key success factor.

He went on to articulate the importance of introducing the latest strength training techniques and advocated the appointment and use of specialised consultants for various aspects of the modern game.

It was an easy appointment to make and it started the revival of the Blue Bulls after a disastrous three years in the doldrums.

The shear dominance of the Blue Bulls in the period 2002-2005 was a direct result of the revolutionary training and coaching regimen he introduced at the Blue Bulls.

Meyer was at the forefront of the scientific and technical revolution in South African rugby, a pioneer of sorts in my view.

There can therefore be no question over his technical abilities as a coach, as well as his player management skills and his special ability to spot talented youngsters and mould them into professional rugby players.

Like the majority of journalists and pundits I welcome the appointment of Meyer as the new Springbok coach. He deserves the appointment. He is indeed “the special one” that can lead the Springboks into the promised land of world domination.

Notwithstanding this accolade, the jury is still out on whether he is indeed the “redeemer” many have been making him out to be.

This accolade will unfortunately only be bestowed upon him when the Springboks produce the desired results on the field of play over the next four years.

While it will be difficult to measure up to Kitch Christie’s 100% win ratio, he will at least be expected to surpass that of Nick Mallett (71%), Jake White (66%) and Peter de Villiers (62%), if he is going to be recognised as the modern day “saviour” of Springbok rugby.

We will have to wait until after the 2015 Rugby World Cup for the verdict!

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