ALLISTER Coetzee took one step closer to becoming the Springbok coach when Heyneke Meyer opted not to renew his contract yesterday.
Meyer’s contract ends on December 31 and he will no longer be the Springbok coach next year, paving the way for former Stormers coach Coetzee to take the job.
After a difficult 12 months that saw the Boks lose to Argentina and Japan and also fail to win the World Cup, Meyer lost not only public support but also allies in the upper echelons of South African rugby.
Meyer famously claimed that there were only two types of rugby: “Winning and losing”.
After failing to win any meaningful silverware in his four-year tenure, he did the honourable thing.
“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 said.
“My integrity is 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 team.
“I have greatly enjoyed my time as coach — although it has been highly pressured at times and especially tough on my family.
“I would like to thank them for their unwavering support in the last four years.
“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,” he said.
South African Rugby Union (Saru) president Oregan Hoskins accepted Meyer’s decision.
“We have reached a natural watershed in many ways with a significant number of senior players either retiring or moving overseas, as well as the fact that our Strategic Transformation Plan is now in full swing,” Hoskins said.
“Heyneke gave his all for the Springboks and it was a great pleasure to work with such a passionate South African.
“There were many highlights during his time as coach and those are the moments we will remember.”
Saru confirmed that a search for a new coach would start immediately, although sources have told Times Media that Coetzee had already been approached about taking up the job.
It is unlikely that much of the backroom staff that served under Meyer will stay on, while at least a third of the World Cup squad will no longer be available for test rugby next year.
As Bok coach, Meyer was in charge for 48 tests, winning 32, losing 14 with two draws for a 66.7 winning percentage.