Front Row Grunt

Rugby … with cauliflower ears

hung out to dry

Meyer hung out to dry?

As Heyneke Meyer selects what Tank Lanning believes to be the best balanced Bok side of the year, it is a little sad that his president, Oregan Hoskins, chooses the same week to re-introduce the quota debate.

Beware of earthquakes as fat men round the world do a dance of joy. Coenie Oosthuizen has finally been picked at loosehead! And perhaps this is the primary reason for my liking the look of the Bok side named to take on the Scots this weekend, but it just strikes me as being well balanced.

Not only because we now have a proper tighthead on the bench, and a chance to give Marcel van der Merwe a deserved run in green, but also because it mixes experience with youth, and is a definite stab at growing squad depth.

Could Handre Pollard have been a better ambassador for South Africa while leading the Baby Boks to a mitochondria membrane from winning the JWC? He is the future of South African rugby, both as a player and as a leader, and I cannot wait to see him debut for the Boks on Saturday.

It is also a clever call to replace Francois Louw with a fellow fetcher in Marcel Coetzee. Replace like with like, so you can play the same game. Smart. And hopefully a key learning from last year’s game against the Scots in Nelspruit when the Boks played without a fetcher (Louw had been given leave to get married) and got eaten alive at the breakdown by a rampant Alasdair Strokosch.

It would be interesting to know who Heyneke Meyer would have selected at 6 if Willem Alberts had been fit, though. I suspect it would have been Schalk Burger, but perhaps I am being a tad harsh on the coach. As it stands, Burger, who to my mind is still not quite the physical beast he once was, gets a run at 7, and with Alberts being strangely off the boil in these last 3 games, perhaps the Boks should play a more linking type game, something that Burger definitely still has in his armoury.

It is a real pity that the likes of Trevor Nyakane, Lwazi Mvovo and Oupa Mohoje come into the side in the week that SARU president Oregan Hoskins sent a message to Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer about having a greater representation of blacks in the national team.

Deserving of their selection, will they now have doubts given the dreaded quota debate? I hope not, and given that Meyer has said that the game this weekend was always going to be the game where he experimented a little more, one has to feel that he might have been hung out to dry a bit by his president!

Knowing that a bigger black representation was coming in any case, did Hoskins choose this week to go public with his “Personal request” to the national coach in order to score a few personal brownie points? From the outside it certainly looks that way, and if so, it is pretty untidy scenario.

A statement from Meyer prior to the series explaining his plans for the 4 games would have gone a long way to avoiding this week’s ugly political spat, but given the intensity of the public spotlight put on a Bok coach, it gets really messy when he starts needing to manage both upwards (to SARU) and downwards (to his players).

Just ask Nick Mallett and Jake White …

PS – The above first appeared as a column on Sport24

Author: Tank

Ex WP prop with a fair amount of experience in all things media ...


  1. I blame SASCOC. Such a bunch of windbags.

  2. If quotas were banished more black player will come through. Psychologically black players know they do not need to work as hard as white players because of quotas. If there were no quotas the black players will word even harder and more will come through.

  3. Strong men in colours come to our shores, looking for a fight.
    Kiwis, Aussies and the best of the North come to play,
    Some familiar to us, they too lived here before taking flight.

    Our silverware gone forever, not taken, given without a fight.
    We are all sad, heads no longer high, but it is okay.
    We are the Rainbow nation, in sport all is integrated, all is right.

    And so when strong men gather together in all their might,
    Our Amadoda sit in the stands, there to watch and not to play.
    So sad, about the Green ‘n Gold, no more valour about which to write!

    A lesson for weighty men who talk from a height.
    Beware, Stay away from our beloved sport, I pray,
    Selection is about sweat and blood and not a Hoskins given right!

  4. I’m not convinced that Marcell can be called a fetcher yet. He plays a similar game to the younger Schalk, ‘no respect for his body’ but with less accuracy, bulk, or skillset. I reckon a couple of years in UK mud would teach him about fetching, bit like Bath stint has matured Flo’s game. McCaw’s ability to choose when and how to compete has always set him apart

    • Yep, you have a point Andrew. I think in the UK they treasure the skill of the fetcher, but here in SA, ever since Jake played without one, we seem more focused on the carrying ability of out loosies. I simply do not understand it, and would play with a short fetcher than another carrier any day. Luckily the Boks have Bismarck, and even Duane is getting in on the fetching. Most steals last weekend came from Willie le Roux though!!