Heyneke Meyer’s job was under scrutiny three weeks ago, after the Springbok’s shock defeat to Japan, in their first World Cup match. But all the critics seem to have magically disappeared, after Meyer’s team managed to comfortably win their last three games to top pool B.
South Africa walloped the USA Eagles in their last game of pool B, winning 64-0. Before that, everyone was having a go at Meyer for “failing the nation” – from fans, media to politicians. We may not have won the World Cup (yet, let’s stay positive) but what the boys and the coach did is indeed remarkable and restored our faith in them.
The last piece I wrote after Springboks lost to Japan contained this quote: “It’s not how you start that matters, but how you finish.” The boys seem to be following those words exactly. The question that everyone should be asking is, do we owe Heyneke Meyer an apology? The man was ridiculed by the media and South African rugby legends; he apologised to the country for the Springboks’ poor display. Were we being too hard on the fella because we lost to Japan…or were we just so eager to taste victory on our first World Cup game that it clouded our judgment? Had the Springboks lost to New Zealand in the opening game, would the reaction have been any different? I think not.
The Springboks lost a very important opening game, but it isn’t even on our minds anymore because they are through to the quarter finals, at the top of their pool. After the Springboks’ amazing comeback I have not seen even one publication giving credit to Meyer. It would be unfair to only credit the players – it was the same team that played and lost to Japan. These are the same ‘old men’ who were defeated by a nation ranked 13th at that time (now ranked 11th).
In social media all I see is “Du Preez was phenomenal” or “Strauss is the best” and I hear nothing being said about the coach who has been taking all our name-calling. Is Meyer a scapegoat of our higher and unreasonable expectations? Should we apologise for slating him?
The decision is yours.