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Sack Meyer and five other steps to fix South African rugby

Heyneke Meyer was a brilliant club coach, so what went wrong at Test level? (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
Roar Guru
22nd September, 2015
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2777 Reads

Over the past four days or so the internet has been abuzz with news about the ‘biggest ever upset in World Cup history’.

Rightly so, the lasting memory I have is a tweet which showed a picture of what must have been a terribly disappointed Springboks supporter dishing out an almighty hug to a very emotional Japanese supporter.

When you realise how much the win must have meant to the Japanese rugby supporters, it does tend to make you see the event in another perspective altogether. Granted it still hurts like hell.

More Rugby World Cup:
» Early World Cup winners and losers
» LORD: Hooper and Pocock need to start every game
» Fiji’s form forces Cheika to show his hand
» Rugby World Cup fixtures
» Rugby World Cup results
» Rugby World Cup highlights
» Rugby World Cup news and opinion

Now that I have calmed down to a mere simmer rather than the scolding hot fire that was raging inside of me on Saturday, I have been able to put my thoughts together into a more coherent order.

Regardless of what happens for the rest of the World Cup for South Africa, I have already moved onto the future and a few issues SARU simply has to put right.

The time for individuals in South African rugby to serve self interests and bury their heads in the sand is over.

The German say “Bis hierher und nicht weiter”, us Afrikaners with some gusto say “Tot hiertoe en nie verder”.

For those among us that have no knowledge of the German or Afrikaans language, it simply means, to here and no further. The last straw.

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I realise that the probability for this article to be read by any person important enough to make changes in South African rugby is remote, nay, nigh on impossible. Yet for my own conscience it needs to be put out there for those who will indeed listen.

Step 1
Fire Heyneke Meyer, regardless of what transpires in the World Cup he is not the man to take South Africa rugby any further. Some might say further into the mire, others might say on the way to redemption.

Either way, his selection policies and his close mindedness to adapt, see the writing on the wall and general inability to look outside the box is not needed, nor wanted by this South African rugby supporter.

Step 2
Central contracting of the top 180 players in South Africa needs to be done as a matter of urgency. Then a draft system needs to be implemented immediately to ensure every Super Rugby franchise has a fair shot at bolstering their teams with quality players.

Yes, the Bulls, Sharks and Stormers will immediately be up in arms and say they have already contracted their players, but I don’t give two hoots, find a lawyer, fix it and make it work.

Step 3
Desist immediately with the selection of any overseas player, if they are not centrally contracted they are not eligible.

It is time that players eligible for selection for the national team compete against their compatriots and prove they are the best inside South Africa. Reputation means nothing, experience as we have seen is a false prophet and form and fitness should be the only criteria when it comes to selection.

Step 4
More rugby academies is the only short-term answer to transformation in South African rugby. With millions of young school boys being educated in a public school system that offers no opportunity to them, academies in each province with a scouting system focussed solely on finding raw natural talent in every nook and cranny in South Africa is a necessity.

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To adapt the words of Tommy Lee Jones from the movie The Fugitive:

“Listen up, ladies and gentlemen. Our targets have been on the run every day for the last decade plus. Average foot speed over uneven ground, barring injuries, is four miles-an-hour. That gives us a surface area 1.2 million square kilometres. What I want out of each and every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in this country. Your targets are between 12 and 18 years of age. Go get them.”

Step 5
A Rugby college where the best talent from the Craven Week can go for higher learning, where these students are educated in sport science, sports medicine, physiotherapy, coaching, sports administration, media liaison, and any other subject relevant to rugby.

The amount of talent that is lost from leaving school to professional rugby is unacceptable. South Africa has the best school rugby system in the world, yet it fails to transition players from school to clubs.

Step 6
A technical, tactical, theoretical and practical coaching regime must be put together, assimilated into every school, university, club, province and rugby franchise in South Africa. Play books must be similar, skill development given high priority and vision, adaptability and positive rugby must be a core value.

Now is the time for SARU to leave behind their amateur status and step into their big boy shoes, fix it or…

After all, if you are going to do it, you might as well do it right.