SARU appoints Meyer as Boks coach
January 27, 2012
Former Bulls and Leicester coach Heyneke Meyer follows Peter de Villiers into the Springboks hotseat © Getty Images
The South African Rugby Union have confirmed that Heyneke Meyer will replace Peter de Villiers as coach of the Springboks on a four-year deal.
The 44-year-old former Bulls and Leicester Tigers coach takes over from De Villiers whose own four-year tenure came to a close following the recent Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Meyer, who led the Blue Bulls to Currie Cup glory in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006 before taking the Bulls to their first Super Rugby title in 2007, has previously served as assistant coach to both Nick Mallett and Harry Viljoen and was considered a favourite to succeed World Cup winning-coach Jake White in 2008 before De Villiers was appointed in what was seen as a politically-motivated decision.
On taking the Springboks' hotseat, Meyer immediately paid tribute to the Bulls who released a statement earlier this week that revealed that the South African Rugby Union (SARU) had been in contact regarding their director of rugby.
"Having been involved with the Blue Bulls for so long, I've experienced firsthand how passionate South African rugby supporters are," Meyer said. "I know the importance of rugby in the South African psyche and will do everything in my power to ensure the Springboks remain among the pace setters of world rugby. I'm very happy to accept this enormous honour and massive responsibility."
Reflecting on why he thought this was now the right time for him to take charge of the Boks having appeared favourite to get the job on more than one occasion in the past, Meyer added: "The first time I felt I still had things to achieve at the Bulls, and the second time it was decided to appoint someone else. I'd like to thank my family and the Blue Bulls Rugby Union for their unwavering support over the past decade. I hope to keep the country's rugby supporters united behind the Boks."
And Oregan Hoskins, president of SARU, said Meyer was their unanimous choice. "The Springboks are SARU's top priority," Hoskins said. "Heyneke's coaching pedigree is second to none in South Africa. He will be an asset to the Boks and South African rugby in general.
"I'd also like thank our outgoing coach Peter de Villiers for his passion, hard work and dedication over the past four years. However, it was felt that we needed a man with a new approach and new ideas to take over one of the toughest jobs in South African sport. Heyneke has our full support and we know he won't leave any stone unturned as he strives to take the Boks back to the top of international rugby."
SARU chief executive Jurie Roux confirmed that the Bulls wanted to keep their man but they utilised a clause in his contract which allowed them to talk to Meyer. "The Blue Bulls wished to retain his services but his contract contains an exit clause which has been exercised; very few people can resist the call when your country says it needs you," said Roux. "The Springboks are the heartbeat of rugby in South Africa and it was paramount to get the best possible candidate to coach the team going forward. We believe we have done that."
With reports suggesting Victor Matfield may join up with Meyer in the Boks' backroom staff, Hoskins has said that any announcements over the make-up of the coaching team will be made at a later date.
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