South Africa’s minister of sport has warned the Springboks that further failure at the Rugby World Cup could see them become branded a “bunch of losers”.
Fikile Mbalula was speaking in the wake of South Africa’s shock defeat to Japan last weekend in Brighton, and said he had personally called the team’s head coach Heyneke Meyer insisting that he helps the side to recover their pride.
During his remarks made at the opening of the Indigenous Games in Polokwane, Mbalula said: “Mr Heyneke Meyer and your team: please represent South Africa and make us proud. What I saw was not the Springboks I know.
“I phoned the coach and I told him: ‘we are a nation of fighters.’ Next game I want to see the Springboks otherwise they will be nothing else but a bunch of losers, who failed to represent the country.”
Meyer immediately took responsibility for the 34-32 loss, saying after the match: “I have to apologise to the nation. It was just not good enough. It was unacceptable and I take full responsibility. Every time we got playing we scored tries, but our discipline was just not good enough. You can’t give away soft penalties. There are no easy games in this competition.”
The outspoken minister Mbalula has form with his “bunch of losers” insult, and used the phrase in savaging the South Africa football team after they exited the Africa Cup of Nations after the group stages last year. “What I saw was not a problem of coaching, it was a bunch of losers. That mediocrity that was displayed … we must never wake up to that again. Their performance was not even lacklustre, it was useless. We must go back to the drawing board.”
South Africa next face Samoa at Villa Park on Saturday in what could prove to be a pivotal pool B encounter.