The 31st of December marked the end of Heyneke Meyer’s contract as Springbok coach. Let’s look at the possible contenders for the vacated coaching position.
Many will say that in his four year stint as a Springbok coach, Heyneke Meyer hasn’t managed to achieve anything of importance. And with good reason; he guided the Springboks to humiliating defeats against Japan and Argentina, was too loyal to a lot of players who were past their prime, only beat the All Blacks once in eight games and didn’t win a single Rugby Championship title in his time as a coach. So it’s fair to say that there weren’t too many tears shed when he left the post.
According to South African Rugby Union (SARU) president, Oregan Hoskins, whoever the next Springbok coach is, transformation (to have 50/50 player representation by 2019) will be his primary mandate. He says that not winning a Rugby World Cup will be considered a failure, but that transformation will be much more important than performance.
Let’s look at the candidates for the Spirngboks coaching post.
We start off this list with the most likely candidate to succeed Meyer, and arguably SARU’s favourite contender – Allister Coetzee. It has often been speculated that Coetzee has a clause in his contract with Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers which lets him leave the club, if the Boks offer him their coaching post.
He has several things going for him. First of all, he was with the Springboks when Jake White was coach, so he will be aware of what’s required from him, if he is the selected candidate. In addition, before he moved to Japan, Coetzee had also coached at the Super Rugby competition for quite some time, and was successful in leading the Stormers to one final and several semi-finals.
He has also established himself as a good motivator and particularly excels in man-management. And with his successful transformation record at Super Rugby level being second to none in South Africa, he might just be the stand out candidate for SARU at the moment.
On a more negative note though, Coetzee’s teams haven’t won anything at the highest level. He was also often criticized for not being enough of a risk taker, and of going down a more conservative route when the pressure was on.
This came as a surprise to many who knew him as a player. He didn’t lack vision and inventiveness then, but now that he’s a coach, he often sets up his teams to play in a safety-first manner, and doesn’t allow for too much imagination from his players. Boks fans compare his coaching style to a man who has casino bonus codes to new South African online casinos, but is scared to play for real money.
As a coach, Ackermann’s teams play the total football equivalent of rugby. Last year, the Lions had an extraordinary campaign, and the Golden Lions absolutely destroyed everyone in their run to the Currie Cup title. And all of this was achieved without the use of so called star players, only reaffirming the belief that Ackermann’s players always play as a team, and because of his methods, regularly over-achieve and exceed their actual playing potential.
The downside to choosing Ackermann as the Boks coach would be that he lacks in the coaching experience department. And many fans and journalists believe that at least another season should be given to him to prove his credentials, before taking over a coaching position with so much national pride in it.
Rounding off the shortlist of contenders is Robbie Deans. His time as Wallaby coach came to an end in 2012 after he lost the players and they turned against him. But that always seems to be the danger with coaches whose main asset is maintaining strict discipline within the dressing room.
However, he still is one of the best rugby coaches in the world, and should be a good choice for the Springboks since he has a balanced approach to playing the game – he is a staunch believer of rugby basics, but also implements creativity and vision in his teams’ attacking game. He has wealth of experience which should also make him a more than competent candidate for such a prestigious job post.