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de Villiers vs Meyer – who is better?

Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :All Blacks, Original Content, Springboks, The Rugby Championship on 13 Sep 2012 at 13:30
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Heyneke Meyer and his selections and lack of a game plan that can win the Springboks a game of rugby has received a lot of air-time this week, with plenty of calls prior to the announcement of the team for both Johan Goosen and Pat Lambie to be included in the squad. My mind wandered to a time when we complained about the same two issues but with a different coach in charge.

It was not too long ago when we were lambasting a certain Peter de Villiers for his lack of a game plan and letting the players themselves select how they were going to play in a match, and choosing who was taking the field of play. This was always just a rumour, and if this was in fact not the case, then de Villiers had his ups and downs in team selection.

A fellow blogger reminded me that a certain Springbok team, under de Villiers as coach, beat Argentina by a record 54 points, this not even a year after the Pumas finished third at the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Fast forward four years and we have an Argentinian team that pushed South Africa in their first home fixture of the Rugby Championship, and followed that up with a draw in their own country a week later.

Now, I know that comparing these events might seem silly and a waste of time, but I cannot help but wonder how a team still being coached by de Villiers would have fared against the same Puma outfit, never mind the English series we had prior to the Rugby Championship.

Looking back at de Villiers’ reign as coach, we can make some assumptions as to who would have taken the field of play in this year so far, assuming that both John Smit and Victor Matfield are still retired.

A player such as Heinrich Brüssow would have had a big part to play in the team, especially since Schalk Burger was, and still is, injured. Francois Louw, who formed part of the 2011 Rugby World Cup Squad might have been called upon much earlier than he has under Meyer, while Johann Muller and could have been another foreign based player to be considered, potentially even as captain. One of the thoughts that crossed my mind was whether Ryan Kankowski, who played 19 of his 20 Springbok matches under de Villiers, would have left for a sabbatical in Japan?

There are so many variables that have to be taken into account that can never lead us to a direct answer as to whether a de Villiers coached team would be doing better than a Meyer team, but some of the players currently being selected, as well as some sitting either on the bench or at home, leads me to think that some results would have turned out completely differently, whether for the better or for the worse.


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