Heyneke Meyer (Gallo)
London – The World Cup-opening events
against Japan in Brighton seem light years away now for safely-installed
quarterfinalists South Africa.
fact, the shock 34-32 defeat has only sat in the annals of rugby history for
some 19 days.
Yet in the period since then, the Springbok
bounce-back over the course of three consecutive wins has accumulated
impressive statistical force, whatever you may wish to say about the calibre of
their opponents in the pool phase.
In storming to the top of the group (a
situation that cannot alter now), the Boks, post-Brighton, have compiled 19
tries with only one “against” – a long-range Scottish intercept event, to Tommy
Seymour – and scored 144 points whilst leaking only 22.
Little wonder, then, that coach Heyneke
Meyer cut a bullish and happy figure at the press conference following
Wednesday’s 64-0 disposal of the United States at the Olympic Stadium here.
But he also dropped some revealing hints,
it might be argued, about the extent of the turmoil that seemingly engulfed the
Bok camp after their seismic shock on England’s south coast at the outset of
RWC; remember that it followed a very poor lead-up to the tournament by the
Boks as well.
When reasonably asked by a South African
scribe on Wednesday night whether he had a preference of opponents for the
quarter-final – it will be one of Wales or Australia – he said that would be
But he then added, to guffaws from many of
the journalists present: “The only team I wouldn’t like to play is Japan.”
What followed, though, seemed full of
delicious intrigue, even as he spoke with a broad grin and gave a knowing look
to his captain alongside him, Fourie du Preez: “That almost cost me my ... er,
well, we won’t go into that.”
It did seem to suggest that being a fly on
the wall of the Bok camp after that Brighton embarrassment would have been a
tantalising place, especially when you consider his pained suggestion after
that match that some senior players didn’t stick fully to the intended template
Did Meyer offer to quit? Did he threaten to
do so? Were there even moves from above to instantly review his status?
All that we know at present is that the Bok
camp seems an infinitely more harmonious -- not to mention freshly ambitious –
place as the knockout “mountain” awaits.
It is a situation probably only aided by
the popular arrival back in the set-up in an advisory and moral-support
capacity of intended RWC captain Jean de Villiers.
Further up the line, a book is fair bet as likeliest
source of in-depth information on what happened behind closed doors after the
Japan loss ...
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing. Rob has attended the Bok pool phase
of RWC 2015 to provide news and analysis for Sport24 readers.