Heyneke Meyer says the Springboks were poor tactically and that several players are running out of time to make an impression ahead of the 2015 World Cup, reports JON CARDINELLI in Dublin.
The Bok coach will lament the 29-15 result on Saturday for a number of reasons. The loss marks the end of this team’s 100% record in the northern hemisphere. Their hopes of winning all four matches and strengthening the psychological hold on northern opponents lie in tatters.
If anything, the Boks will need to beat England next week at Twickenham to make a success of this sojourn. Many of the players will need to improve dramatically in the space of seven days.
Captain Jean de Villiers said afterwards that the preparation for the match against Ireland had been spot on, and the game plan well suited to the challenge. The execution of certain individuals, however, let the team down. Time is running out for these players to show they can add value in northern hemisphere conditions.
‘We will learn a great deal from this,’ said Meyer after the big defeat in Dublin. ‘We will know by the end of these four games who can go to the World Cup, and who can’t.’
The significance of this statement should not be underestimated. A number of players struggled in the wet underfoot conditions at the Aviva Stadium, none more so than scrumhalf Francois Hougaard.
The pressure was immense with the crowd at the Aviva Stadium baying for Bok blood, but this is the weather, atmosphere, and tempo of play the South Africans can expect at the 2015 World Cup in England. If players, particularly those who are not already established as first-choice in their positions, fail to perform now, they may not be considered for next year’s global tournament.
When asked about the battle against Ireland, Meyer gave the hosts plenty of credit. Overall, the Bok coach felt that Ireland were the smarter of the two teams on the day, and you could tell that this was a statement he didn’t enjoying making.
‘Everybody wants to play an attacking, ball-in-hand game, but you have to play the conditions,’ he said. ‘There’s a big difference to how the game is played here in the northern hemisphere, and you have to adjust tactically.
‘Ireland did that very well. They outkicked and outplayed us. We had so many opportunities in Ireland’s half, but we just didn’t take them. Our composure was definitely lacking’
Referee Romain Poite yellow-carded hooker Adriaan Strauss in the second half, a decision that effectively killed off any chance of a Bok comeback. It was a questionable call, and one Meyer evidently didn’t agree with. And yet, the Bok coach refused to view this as the moment the Test was lost.
‘I felt we were starting to come back into the game at that point. But we don’t want to make excuses. We had so many chances. There’s a lot to improve before we face England next week.’
Photo: Patrick Bolger/Getty Images