Heyneke Meyer (AP)
Cape Town - A shell-shocked Springbok management team didn’t mince their words as they faced up to the shock of the World Cup thus far, and tried to make sense of their loss to Japan in their opening Pool B match in Brighton on Saturday.
According to the supersport.com website, coach Heyneke Meyer and captain Jean de Villiers looked like they’d seen a ghost and were clearly still trying to contemplate the 34-32 loss to the World Cup minnows in what will go down as one of the biggest shocks in rugby history.
“We’re obviously very disappointed. We let our country down. We were not good enough and they played well. We were not good enough,” Meyer said as he tried to explain what went wrong.
“We knew what would expect. We decided to concentrate more on our game, but there were just too many penalties. We couldn’t get going. Our discipline was not good enough, we knew it would be tough until the end but all credit to them.
“We didn’t get any go forward momentum and quick ball and if you don’t get that you won’t win the game”
Meyer said it wasn’t good enough, and was a massive setback to the team’s hopes at this year’s tournament. The Boks will now have to defy history as no winning nation has ever lost a pool game and still won the tournament.
More than that, this was supposed to be their easiest game of the pool, and now turns up the heat ahead of a big clash in Birmingham with Samoa and Scotland in Newcastle a week later. Either way the Boks now face the unthinkable prospect of leaving before the knockout stages.
“It’s just not good enough, we represent a proud nation and we let them down. It’s not good enough. We must apologise but we can’t keep on doing that. We need to take it on the chin, give them the respect they need, and from now on every game will be tough.
“We have to get back on track, it won’t be easy, but I take responsibility as coach – it’s a big setback and we really have to work hard and be focused if we’re going to be at the next round.”
Captain Jean de Villiers said he still couldn’t understand where it all went wrong.
“I thought the concentration and the way the guys responded on the field was good at times. This was just one of those performances where we can’t really put our finger on it where we lost, but we were beaten by a better team on the day,” De Villiers said.
“Credit should go to Japan for the way they played, the way they stuck it out until the end and as players we need to take responsibility for this performance, because it is way below par for us, and the standards we set.
“It is difficult to say where it went wrong but it definitely wasn’t good enough, by a long shot.”
The Boks will move on to Birmingham on Sunday where a day of soul-searching awaits and a massive turnaround if they are to not only progress, but at least win their next two pool games.