Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has joined Hong Kong-based Carinat Sports Marketing as managing director of the business.
In his new role, Meyer will be drawing upon his international sporting expertise to develop various sporting projects in South Africa, and to broaden Carinat’s business in Africa and Europe, also adding a wealth of experience to the ongoing activities in Asia Pacific.
After the appointment was made official, Meyer commented via a press statement on Sunday: “I am thrilled to be joining Carinat Sports Marketing, especially since this opportunity will allow me to live out my passion, which is sports, in South Africa, where I have always said I would like to make a difference. I had some enticing offers from abroad, but I love my country and it is where I would like to be involved in the business of sport."
Meyer, who coached the Springboks for four seasons between 2012 and 2015, said he was eager to get involved in rugby again.
“I first met the team from Carinat at the World Club 10s in Mauritius in June last year and their unique approach immediately impressed me. At the World Club 10s I was involved with the African Pacific Dragons team - my first involvement with rugby since the end of 2015. And that involvement at the World Club 10s reminded me yet again that rugby is my passion. The atmosphere created by having great players from all over the world playing on an island paradise is totally unique in the rugby world - it is a true festival," Meyer said.
He continued: “I found it interesting that Carinat Sports Marketing had created and developed the tournament concept in its totality, as well as the African Pacific Dragons team. They are also known as the Asia Pacific Dragons, and had been the outfit behind the Singapore bid for the 18th Super Rugby team back in 2014.
“The team has played pretty constantly since they were founded in 2011, and their roll of honour is a who’s who of Pacific Islands players - a real ‘players team’. I enjoyed the atmosphere and spirit and afterwards I kept in touch with (Wallabies scrumhalf) Will Genia, who took his family with him to Mauritius and said that he his zest for playing again there.
“I also stayed in touch with Jon Phelps from Carinat, and we kept talking, sharing views and ideas. I was impressed in the values the company has about looking long term with everything they do, and the players coming first. We talked about South Africa, what they had in mind and what I was looking for. Despite receiving a number of offers from Europe, the time at home with my family had been enjoyable and long overdue. I had achieved everything I had always dreamt of doing as a coach, and found the discussions around this new challenge very interesting.”
Meyer, 49, had been out of the limelight since leading the Springboks to a third-place finish at the 2015 World Cup in England.
He told Sport24 last month that he had received various offers to coach abroad but had waited for the right role to come along.
“Carinat flew me to Hong Kong in January and I spent the weekend with the owners. We discussed what we could achieve together, and they offered me the option to join as managing director. I was excited by the unlimited opportunities and freedom, but also the option to be based in South Africa.
“We are developing some very exciting projects, with new events we looking to launch (even a couple of non-rugby ones). There some more plans for the Asia (& Africa) Pacific Dragons, as well as schools programmes, which is an area I have a lot of ideas on.
“The philosophy behind the Asia Pacific Dragons has been to bring well-known players to Asia so that kids had the chance to meet their heroes and inspire them. I want to see how we can take this a step further, but also work with coaches and officials.
“I believe this is a fascinating time for rugby globally, and there has never been a better time for me to step into this new role. Everything I have ever done is about being innovative and striving to be the best. This new opportunity gives the flexibility to be even broader and more creative.
“I am excited to join a company that has the same work ethic and shares the same values that I have always had about applying a passion to what you do, with ambition and a sense of wanting to make a difference. But always be thankful that we lucky to love what we do for a living. I can’t wait to get started.”
Jon Phelps, founder of Carinat Sports Marketing, welcomed Meyer’s appointment: “Heyneke joining the Carinat Sports Marketing family is a major step for us, and also underlines our commitment and intent to grow the company.
“As a world-class leader in rugby, we are looking forward to developing and bringing our exciting plans to fruition.
“We have been assessing a number of options where we can add and develop value and believe the level of experience and expertise Heyneke brings to our team ensures we have the skills to successfully bring these to fruition.”