Editorials 15.8.2015 06:00 pm

Who wants to be Meyer right now?

Heyneke Meyer (Head Coach) of South Africa during the South African National rugby team announcement at Shrewsbury Suite, Radisson Blu on November 05, 2014 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

Heyneke Meyer (Head Coach) of South Africa during the South African National rugby team announcement at Shrewsbury Suite, Radisson Blu on November 05, 2014 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

We have to ask who, in their right mind, would want to swap places with embattled Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer right now?

At the root of the problems facing this patriotically passionate and intrinsically decent man appears to be his reliance on the old guard to bail out an under achieving national side. But it runs deeper than that. Meyer has faced an injury list that would fill the emergency ward at a fair-sized hospital.

Not least of these has been the serial damage inflicted on Jean de Villiers, the man Meyer has pegged to be his captain at next month’s World Cup in England. De Villiers has fought his way back from a crippling knee injury to once more wear the captain’s mantle, only to be sidelined with a fractured jaw and facing a race against time to make the squad.

The coach has also faced the barbs of a rugby public over a team seemingly incapable of closing out the full 80 minutes of an international. And, to add to Meyer’s worry lines, trade union confederation Cosatu has attacked the coach for leaving black players out in the cold. It is ironic that an organisation in disarray and seemingly under attack from within and without its own structures should lash out in this fashion.

In this regard, though, Meyer has found a somewhat surprising defender in Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, a man who has levelled his verbal shotgun at rugby and the pace of transformation within the game on a number of occasions, going as far as to criticise the SA Rugby Union for the “tortoise pace” at which the realignment of the demographics in the national team was taking place.

But should the Springboks lose in Buenos Aires tonight, Meyer will carry the unwelcome baggage of his side not having won a Test in 2015.

 

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