South African coach Heyneke Meyer said he “cried for about 24 hours after losing to Japan”. Photo / Getty Images
Steve Deane scours global media for an offbeat look at rugby’s biggest show.
By Steve Deane

And we all thought Boks coach Heyneke Meyer was an emotionless cliché machine.

“I cried for about 24 hours after losing to Japan,” admitted the under-fire coach as he revealed his softer side to the Daily Mail ahead of his team’s quarter-final showdown with Wales. “Then I thought about committing suicide for an hour. I’m joking. As you can see, I’ve got much more grey hair.” Crikey, that got a bit awkward. That crazy Bok sense of humour…

Turns out Meyer is more than just a ‘joke’ machine. He’s also an avid fan of conflating sport with war, and a bit of a history buff. “There have not been leaders in times of peace, it’s when there is war that leadership and character come through,” offered Meyer when asked what the most humiliating defeat in Springboks history had done to help his country’s World Cup campaign. “Looking around you, you know the management team and these are guys who you can trust going into battle.”

Sure, who better than a video analyst, skills coach and a physiotherapist to have at your side when you go over the top?

Saving the best for last, Meyer expressed confidence in the youngsters in his squad – especially 21-year-old, 17-cap flyhalf Handre Pollard – as they prepared to fight the Welsh on the beaches, the landing grounds, in the fields and in the streets and in the hills.

“Look at the best generals like Alexander the Great, who was 21. So it’s a mindset. What the youngsters lack in experience they will definitely make up for in heart.

Continued below.

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“I always say to the youngsters that Boris Becker was the best at 17 when he won Wimbledon. Mike Tyson was a machine at 21 and I can keep on going.” Err, no thanks mate, we’ll stop you there.

The biggest question facing the Boks heading into their date with destiny was whether ageing – okay, horribly ageing – lock and national hero Victor Matfield would be fit enough to take the place of exciting young buck Lodewyk (Lood) De Jager. Fate intervened with a niggling complaint to the 38-year-old legend’s hammy, much to the relief of a good few Boks fans, reported IOL Sport.