Cape Town - A well-known New Zealand scribe feels the South African Rugby Union (SARU) missed a trick by not attempting to lure Eddie Jones to coach the Springboks.
Jones recently become England’s new head coach after ditching the Stormers some two weeks after being unveiled as their new Super Rugby coach.
SARU has already started the process of finding a new Springbok coach after Heyneke Meyer stepped down on Thursday.
While a process of appointing a new coach needs to be followed, Sport24 has it on good authority that former Stormers coach Allister Coetzee will be the man appointed.
But Wynne Gray, a columnist for the New Zealand Herald, feels Jones is the man who should have replaced Meyer.
“The answer to the Springbok coaching issues was right under their nostrils. But like much of the national backline play, SARU officials were static and unable to see past tradition and beyond the racial transformation directives in rugby,” Gray wrote.
Meyer had copped criticism for his conservative game plan, and when Japan - coached by Jones - stunned the Boks at this year's Rugby World Cup the alarm bells rang.
The Springboks’ semi-final loss to New Zealand was perhaps the last straw for Meyer, and according to Gray, that's when SARU should have jumped to sign Jones.
“SARU twiddled their thumbs, wondering if they would jettison Meyer or he would jump on the bonfire first, England came calling.
“They were in a similar plight - no domestic coaches with enough substance to take over from Stuart Lancaster and no one with the gumption to deal with some major issues in the game. But they did have the sense to put boss Ian Ritchie on a plane to South Africa to make Jones an offer he could not refuse.
“Even then South Africa had a chance to use the situation to their advantage. If Meyer could see his exit ‘was in the best interests of South African rugby’ then others at SARU must have had the same insight.
“They should have ensured Jones stayed with the Stormers in some supervising role as well as offering him the upgrade to the Springbok job. He was someone with massive rugby intelligence and a similar pool of ability to mould in South Africa.”
Under Meyer’s tutelage, the Springboks lost seven Tests against the All Blacks, winning only one.
READ the full column on the NZ Herald website