/ Rugby

Meyer named as Springboks head coach

Updated: Friday, 27 Jan 2012 12:27

Heyneke Meyer is the new Springboks head coach
Heyneke Meyer is the new Springboks head coach

The South Africa Rugby Union have named Heyneke Meyer the new head coach of the Springboks following a meeting in Cape Town.

The 44-year-old's appointment was ratified on Friday morning following talks on Thursday, and the Blue Bulls rugby executive will now begin preparing for his first match in charge, against England in Durban on 9 June.

"Having been involved with the Blue Bulls for so long, I've experienced first hand how passionate South African rugby supporters are," said Meyer.

"I know the importance of rugby in the South African psyche and will do everything in my power to ensure the Springboks remain among the pace setters of world rugby.

"I'm very happy to accept this enormous honour and massive responsibility," he said.

Meyer, who takes over from Peter de Villiers, coached the Blue Bulls to Super 14 glory in 2007, having won the Absa Currie Cup in 2002, 2003, 2004 and a share of the crown in 2006.

Meyer left to take over as Leicester Tigers coach in 2008, but was in England only a short time, taking compassionate leave six months into his reign to attend to family matters back home and then handing in his resignation and returning to the Bulls in an executive role.

He also has national team experience as an assistant to both Nick Mallett and Harry Viljoen.

His name has previously been mentioned in relation to the top job, but Meyer admitted he had felt the need to wait.

"The first time I felt I still had things to achieve at the Bulls, and the second time it was decided to appoint someone else," he said. "I'd like to thank my family and the Blue Bulls Rugby Union for their unwavering support over the past decade. I hope to keep the country's rugby supporters united behind the Boks."

De Villiers' contract with SARU expired in December, after he confirmed he would leave his post following the 11-9 defeat to Australia in the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
SARU president Oregan Hoskins backed Meyer to meet the high standards expected by Springbok fans.

"The Springboks are SARU's top priority," he said.

“Heyneke's coaching pedigree is second to none in South Africa. He will be an asset to the Boks and South African rugby in general.

"I'd also like thank our outgoing coach Peter de Villiers for his passion, hard work and dedication over the past four years. However, it was felt that we needed a man with a new approach and new ideas to take over one of the toughest jobs in South African sport."

Yesterday, the Blue Bulls had voiced their reluctance to see Meyer leave, but SARU chief executive Jurie Roux revealed there was an exit clause in his contract which made the process simple.

"The Blue Bulls wished to retain his services but his contract contains an exit clause which has been exercised; very few people can resist the call when your country says it needs you," said Roux.

"The Springboks are the heartbeat of rugby in South Africa and it was paramount to get the best possible candidate to coach the team going forward. We believe we have done that."