South African rugby coach Heyneke Meyer has chosen to quit his role at the helm of the Springboks, following the team’s third place finish at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in October.
The Springboks suffered a shock 32-34 loss to Japan in the opening game of the World Cup, which immediately added pressure on the coach’s job, despite his ability to turn things around with a strong run to the semi-finals of the competition, where South Africans fell to a narrow 20-18 defeat to the eventual winners, the All Blacks.
They then went on to beat Argentina 24-13 in the third-place play off, but that would prove to be Meyer’s final contribution with the national team, who remain ranked third in the world behind New Zealand and Australia.
The Springbok coaching position was due to be the central discussion at the South African Rugby Union (SARU) in a week’s time, but Meyer has pre-empted any decision from the union by declining to take up any offer from SARU, if it were forthcoming.
Announcing his decision, he explained that he believes a change is necessary in the Springbok setup.
“I have always put the Springboks first in my time as coach and since returning from England I have realised that as much as I believe I still have a lot to offer, the time has come for change,” Meyer revealed, according to SuperSport.
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“My integrity has always been very important and I feel I can leave with my head held high. I’ve always maintained that my only motivation was to serve my country and to do what was best for the Springboks. I have greatly enjoyed my time as Springbok coach – although it has been highly pressured at times and especially tough on my family, and I would like to thank them for their unwavering support in the last four years,” he added.
“I have put my heart and soul into the job and did my very best. I believe that, overall, I leave the team with much to look forward to in 2016, with new structures in place to ensure the Springboks will remain competitive on the world stage,” Meyer stated.
The coach went on to suggest that South Africa will have a bright future, due to the many excellent young players who are coming through the ranks.
“The number of young players that have been blooded over the past four seasons, who chose to remain in South Africa, leave the team in a great position to move on in the next few years. I would like to wish the next coach all the success in this wonderful position,” he said.
“The Springboks are a special team and carrying the hopes of a nation is a huge responsibility and great privilege. I realised that yet again with all the support I received from ordinary South Africans, both at the World Cup and upon our return to the country. Thank you to the countless faithful, positive and passionate supporters that have made my job as coach a joy,” the coach added.
“To everyone at SARU and for the hard work and commitment of my management and support team, I will be forever thankful. And finally to the players – you are ultimately the reason why I coach and you’ve enriched my life in the last four years,” he concluded.
Meyer leaves the team with a legacy of a 66.7% winning record, having seen 143 test tries scored during his tenure, with only the All Blacks recording more. A new coach will be announced in new course.