Springbok head coach Heyneke Meyer says his players let themselves and the nation down with their disappointing performance against Argentina in Mendoza.
While the Boks (who trailed most of the match) avoided a first-ever defeat to Argentina as they forced a 16-16 stalemate, Meyer pulled no punches in his view on his team’s display.
South Africa trailed 13-3 at half time, and broke down the deficit in the second half thanks to Frans Steyn’s charge-down try and Morne Steyn’s boot, who added the conversion and a penalty in the final 40. Meyer pointed to Argentina’s strong approach to the breakdown battle and the Boks’ poor discipline for the near loss.
‘Firstly, all credit to Argentina. We were not good enough and they played very well, but we let our country and ourselves down tonight,’ said Meyer. ‘Our problems started at the breakdown, where we could not get any quick ball and when we did at stages, I thought we played good rugby only to lose the ball in good positions on the field.
‘We have a lot of inexperience and youngsters, but it’s not an excuse. For a lot of these guys it was their first Test away from home, but we talk a lot about mental toughness and we needed to make the step up.
‘We always knew they were going to come out hard at us and that it was going to be very tough, but you can’t afford to give away all those penalties we did early in the game. That was unacceptable.’
Skipper Jean de Villiers also expressed his frustration as there were numerous disruptions caused by the Pumas’ high penalty count.
‘Every time we got in their half, they gave away a penalty. We didn’t get a lot of ball out wide but when we did we made some metres. However, it was one of those games where we never got into it and it ended in a draw.’