2011 World Cup campaign
Former Bok coach tried to convince current coach to assist with national team before start of
The man who made a scathing racial attack against Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer this week begged Meyer to help him with the coaching of his struggling team five years ago.
City Press’ sister publication, Rapport, has learnt that Peter de Villiers, Meyer’s predecessor as Springboks coach, travelled to Pretoria in 2010 to ask Meyer to be his forwards coach.
Meyer turned down the offer and later took over from De Villiers after the team’s unsuccessful World Cup in 2011.
De Villiers said in a newspaper column last week that Meyer had “underestimated the intelligence of black South Africans” with his team selection for the recent Rugby Championship and especially with his starting team for the test against Argentina in Durban last weekend, which the Boks lost.
This followed an outburst by Tony Ehrenreich, labour federation Cosatu’s outspoken Western Cape secretary, about the alleged lack of transformation in the Boks team.
Nevertheless, Meyer’s 23-man squad for that test included one black player in the starting line-up and three on the bench – more than De Villiers included in his entire World Cup squad in 2011.
Meyer was widely criticised last week, particularly for his unsuccessful experiment of choosing Jesse Kriel as a wing in place of Cornal Hendricks and Lwazi Mvovo for the battle at the Shark Tank.
But even De Villiers will know that selections sometimes involve a difficult balancing act.
Since 2008, for example, De Villiers selected Percy Montgomery, Frans Steyn and Pat Lambie as fullbacks, but did not use Zane Kirchner and Gio Aplon much.
In the 2011 World Cup, Jaque Fourie served as Meyer’s firstchoice outside centre, while Juan de Jongh had to be satisfied with just 26 minutes of game time in the entire tournament.
At the same tournament, De Villiers regularly used Francois Hougaard on the wing, while Odwa Ndungane and Aplon had to watch from the sidelines.
In addition, many “players of colour” whom De Villiers selected between 2008 and 2011 – such as Kirchner, Bryan Habana, Bjorn Basson, Ndungane, Heini Adams, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Gurthrö Steenkamp – were in fact recruited and coached by Meyer at the Bulls.
It’s not the first time that the racial bomb has exploded in a World Cup year. In 1999, the country’s former rugby boss, Rian Oberholzer, read the transformation riot act to coach Nick Mallett before a test against Wales, while in 2003 Rudolph Straeuli had to quash reports about the notorious Kamp Staaldraad and the Geo Cronjé saga.
coach Heyneke Meyer