Meyer favourite to succeed White

Former Super 14-winning coach Heyneke Meyer is the favourite to succeed World Cup-winning boss Jake White as the new South Africa rugby coach next week.

White stepped down as the Springbok coach at the end of last year after his four-year contract with the South African Rugby Union (Saru) had run its course.

He never re-applied for his job after leading the Boks to the World Cup title in France in October.

White’s relationship with his employers soured in his final months in charge of the national team and it came to a head during the World Cup when, on the eve of the Boks’ semifinal showdown with Argentina, his position was advertised in the South African press.

Meyer and three others—Peter de Villiers, Chester Williams and Allister Coetzee—made the final shortlist of candidates.

Saru’s committee to oversee the appointment of the new coach will conduct interviews with all four candidates on Monday and Tuesday before naming White’s successor by the end of next week.

Bulls man Meyer appears the frontrunner for the job, but political pressure to see a black coach get the job may sway the decision the way of one of the other three candidates.

Meyer resigned his position as Bulls Super 14 coach in the latter stages of last year after leading the franchise to their, and South Africa’s, first win in the competition in May.

He has long been thought of as a Bok coach and also threw his name into the hat in 2004 when a successor for Rudolf Straeuli was sought.

He eventually withdrew his application, paving the way for White to take up the position.

Meyer, a specialist forwards coach, took the Bulls to four Currie Cup titles in his time with the team. He has also served as a Bok assistant coach before and there was talk during the World Cup that he’d been asked to apply for the Bok job by the Saru hierarchy, a sign that those who matter are keen to see him in the position.

White, however, has openly stated his Bok assistant coach of the last four years—Coetzee—should get the job.

“The players know him, he knows the structures of the team and he knows what works and what doesn’t at Test level,” said White in December.

Coetzee, like Meyer, is highly regarded and his involvement with the World Cup winners would ensure continuity—something Saru have not taken seriously in appointing coaches in the past. Counting against Coetzee, though, is the fact he’s never coached at Super 14 level.

De Villiers, currently employed as the South African under-21 coach, and a successful one at that, is deemed as the dark horse in the race for the top job.
Like White, most of his successes have come at a junior level, but he has lots of experience coaching at Currie Cup level.

Williams, a folk hero from the 1995 World Cup-winning team, is unlikely to get the nod. While he achieved plenty of success as South Africa’s Sevens coach, he’s battled in the 15-man game. Williams is the least experienced of the candidates and was sacked as Cats Super 14 coach just three years ago.

Meyer and De Villiers will be interviewed on Monday and Coetzee and Williams on Tuesday. “The [Saru] president’s council [which appoints the coach] will meet on Wednesday and by Friday there will be a new Springbok coach,” Mike Stofile, who is chairperson of the committee overseeing the appointment, told Friday’s press in South Africa.—Sapa-AFP

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