Cape Town - Former Springbok captain Wynand Claassen has explained why he opted to circulate a letter among ex-Boks to support the sacking of Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
Sport24 reported at the weekend that Claassen and former scrumhalf Divan Serfontein circulated a hard-hitting letter under a heading “Heyneke Must Fall” among dozens of former Springboks.
Claassen and Serfontein called for concerted action to ensure that Meyer’s four-year contract is not renewed when the SA Rugby Union (SARU) executive meets early next month after the Springboks finished in third place at the Rugby World Cup.
Claassen spoke to Cape Talk on Wednesday explaining their reasons.
“What really instigated this for Divan and myself to send a letter to all the ex-Springboks is because of newspaper reports that SA Rugby has already offered him (Meyer) a new contract and a lot of the presidents of the South African rugby provinces don’t know about it,” said Claassen.
“That’s why we decided we must do something about it. A lot of people on the streets ask what can ex-Springboks do. So we decided to write this open letter to the ex-Springboks.
“Springbok rugby has deteriorated the last four years - especially the last year - and this year we’ve lost five games. Since the (2014) end-of year-tour we lost another two. So it’s seven games in less than a year.
“If you look at the All Blacks, they’ve lost three games in four years. And there’s a big concern about the way we are playing. We are just playing the one style of play. We’re not moving on, we’re not renewing. So basically, it must be (because) of the coach.”
When asked about a possible successor for Meyer, Claassen mentioned former Stormers coach Allister Coetzee as well as Lions mentor Johan Ackermann.
“I think there are quite a few guys. If you look at a guy like Allister Coetzee - he was the deputy coach for the Springboks for quite a long time. He was quite successful with Western Province and the Stormers. He’s got the right CV. He also played top class rugby, he played provincial rugby and for the SARU national team in those days.
“Also, a guy like Johan Ackermann - you can just see what the Lions have done the last four years, the way they’ve been playing. He’s also a Springbok.
“I think they can even look further to other guys, but I think there are enough local guys.”
Claassen is satisfied with the response they have received from the former players.
“Obviously not everybody is in agreement. There are guys that don’t want to go along with it. We respect it. But we’ve received a tremendous amount of support from not only ex-players, but also the general public. I can’t give you names, but there are very well-known people who supported this thing. We’re getting a lot of support, but I think the main thing is that SA Rugby must take note.”