A conundrum called Heyneke

2015-11-04 06:00

LET us, South African rugby lovers, face up to an inescapable fact: in this year’s 2015 Rugby World Cup our Springboks simply weren’t good enough. Yes, there were all sorts of “if onlys”, all kinds of “buts”. Yet no good comes of crying over spilt milk and none of it changes the stark whiteness of the message on the Boks’ blackboard – NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

At the same time let’s be generous. Let’s doff our hats to Richie McCaw’s All Blacks, deserving champions for the third time to become the first country in the tournament’s history to score a hat-trick of victories. What’s more the 34-17 victory at Twickenham was thoroughly deserved and showed just how good the Kiwis really are. A lesser team might just have crumbled.

Leading 16-3 at the break, the Kiwis in less than two minutes into the second half upped the score to 21-3. It looked like a cakewalk, the Wallabies well and truly done for.

Not on your life! Two sevens are 14, and the Australians promptly ran in two converted tries to make it 21-17. Now there were only four points in it. But in stepped Dan Carter, arguably the finest flyhalf of modern times, with an inspired long distance drop-goal, and that, as they say, was that. It was a moment that changed everything – the Wallabies no longer able to produce any more real fight. The moment, too, that the judges knew just who to reward with the Man of the Match accolade.

That was the 69th minute, the moment the Wallabies finally lost heart.

Which brings us back to the Boks – not forgetting the spirit they showed in putting Argentina away 24-13 in the playoff for bronze medal – and a string of questions that need answering. Questions such as: where to now? What went wrong? How do we fix it? And most important of all: what does the future hold for Bok coach, Heyneke Meyer?

The last question is, I repeat, the most important of them all. Where in all this does coach Meyer stand? Like it or not that is where the buck stops, with the boss-man, the one who calls the shots. Apparently his future hangs in the balance. Does he stay or must he go? A good, honest fellow with deep feelings for the game he is generally well liked by the players and appears to have done all he can for the Boks. But that perhaps is the crux of the matter: is his “all he can” enough for this highest level of the game?

Of course he would like to stay on to prove himself. But is Meyer the right man for the job? Let’s not forget that Jake White for all his faults was a successful coach who, after Kitch Christie, brought us our second World Cup triumph. Yet he was got rid of, so to speak.

At the moment both Meyer and SARU are staying mum, other than to say the matter will be dealt with in December – a Christmas Box for someone perhaps? – when an announcement will be made. This seems to indicate that Meyer’s bacon may yet be saved.

A saviour though could be the Lions coach and former Springbok great, Johann Ackermann. It’s certainly worth a shot. Look what he’s done for the Jo’burg franchise, his latest accolade the winning of this year’s Currie Cup in outplaying more favoured Western Province. Think about it. It’s more than an idle thought; surely worth chewing on.

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