Springboks search for right fit as Meyer replacement

The job is the most complex and politically charged in world rugby and that may well put off applicants.

FILE: Outgoing Springbok Coach, Heyneke Meyer. Picture: Christa van der Walt/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Heyneke Meyer's sudden about-turn on his willingness to continue as coach of South Africa has created a vacancy for one of world rugby's top jobs, but it is also one that comes complete with pitfalls for his successor.

The South African Rugby Union (Saru) confirmed on Thursday that Meyer would not seek a renewal of his contract, even though the coach had been unlikely to be offered one anyway after a number of the country's provinces had turned against him.

So begins the search for a coach to start a new era of Springbok rugby.

With the side having lost experienced players after finishing third at the recent Rugby World Cup, the sport in South Africa faces a future where transformation of the team will be higher up the agenda.

The job is the most complex and politically charged in world rugby and that may well put off a number of prospective applicants who do not share the vision of Saru.

Saru's Strategic Transformation Plan, which the new coach will be forced to adhere to, says the squad for the 2019 World Cup must have 50 percent non-white representation and, of those players, 60 percent must be Black African.

Eight of the 31 players that went to the recent World Cup were non-white and, of those, four were Black African.

Former Stormers coach Allister Coetzee, who recently took up a post at Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers in Japan is the leading contender to take over from Meyer.

The 52-year-old was an assistant to Jake White when the Boks won the World Cup in 2007 and was a favourite to succeed him before the position went to Peter de Villiers.

The Stormers were the most 'transformed' of the South African Super Rugby teams during Coetzee's seven-year stay in Cape Town.

Former Springboks' lock Johan Ackerman has been praised for his work at the Lions, but is unlikely to have enough support from the provinces so early in his coaching career.

White has said before he would like another go at the helm, but his prickly relationship with Saru may end that talk before it starts, while another former Bok coach who would be a more favourable selection, Nick Mallett, has previously rebuffed efforts to get him back into coaching.


It seems unlikely Saru will make history and look at a non-South African, though a poll on leading South African internet portal Sport24 saw 58 percent of respondents suggest SARU should look to a New Zealander, with John Plumtree and John Mitchell both having worked extensively in the country.

Each of South Africa's 14 provincial unions has two votes to put towards who should be the next Bok coach, with Saru president Oregan Hoskins having a deciding 29th vote if needed.

Saru's General Council is scheduled to meet on 11 December to discuss the candidates, though it is unclear if a vote will be taken then.