Heyneke Meyer certainly hasn’t changed the Boks much for the better since taking over from Peter de Villiers after last year’s World Cup – that much can be seen pretty clearly in a string of results that’s delivered some uninspiring play at home and nothing resembling an away win yet either.
As a stickler for discipline, though, one had hoped that under his leadership the Boks may, at least, manage to shake off one of their less-favourable tags, that of the sport’s bad boys when it comes to maintaining discipline and playing a clean game. Much though we may not want to admit it, the tale of Bok rugby, since readmission, has been littered with incidents of indiscipline and foul play, with Johan le Roux’s ear-biting antics in New Zealand, James Small’s dissent in Australia and Jannes Labuschagne’s coat-hanger tackle on Jonny Wilkinson at Twickenham some of the more (or less) memorable ones. That’s not even to bring up the “victimised” Bakkies Botha, who collected so many yellow cards during his international career that he could probably paper his bedroom walls with them…
Botha’s successor, Eben Etzebeth, set the tone for yet another controversial tour against Australia two weeks ago, with a stupid headbutt (whether mock or otherwise) in full view of the cameras, which earned him a two-week ban. The madness continued in Dunedin on Saturday, with Bulls prop Dean Greyling yellow carded and later cited for a reckless forearm charge at a ruck; further increasing the sense of outrage was the way that Greyling – nicknamed “MacGuyver”, although appearing far less clever than his namesake – appeared to specifically target All Black captain Richie McCaw.
Greyling has now also received a two-week ban – a rather lenient one of the “court of public opinion” is to be believed – and without necessarily endorsing this view personally, the general consensus “out there” seems to be that this is just another case of a Bulls player who probably didn’t really deserve to be there in the first place who has gone on to let the team down. Let’s not forget that the Bok forwards were well in control of this game and had Morne Steyn been able to actually kick something, or Greyling not disrupted the effort with his silly ejection, we may have been talking about a very different mood this week.
Heyneke Meyer needs to get a grip of this situation – and fast – and he can at least start do so by implementing a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to foul play. The Boks always seem to be just a little bit short of respect when we face other sides away from home and I feel that it’s time to turn our collective backs on this unfortunate history of dirty play that tends to follow us around whenever we’re on tour. Stop the rot, Heyneke. Chuck Greyling and Etzebeth out of your squad and lay down the law.
It’s long overdue in Bok rugby.Tweet