Heyneke Meyer, the former Leicester Tigers and Blue Bulls coach, has stepped down as head coach of South Africa after four years

The coaching merry-go-round in the wake of the Rugby World Cup continues unabated with South Africa coach, Heyneke Meyer announcing he is stepping down after four years in the role at the end of the month.

The former Leicester Tigers and Blue Bulls coach, who led the Springboks to a creditable third-placed finish,  will however be remembered as the coach in charge when the Boks lost to Japan, 34-32, in the biggest shock in World Cup history.

Famously passionate during games, Meyer, 48, said in a press statement. “I have always put the Springboks first in my time as coach and since returning from England I have realised that as much as I believe I still have a lot to offer, the time has come for change.”

Heyneke Meyer

Passionate man: Meyer wasn’t afraid of showing his emotions

He continued: “My integrity has always been very important and I feel I can leave with my head held high. I’ve always maintained that my only motivation was to serve my country and to do what was best for the Springboks.”

What will have ushered Meyer towards the door was a poor Rugby Championship, where they lost in Durban to Argentina but also criticism that he showed too much loyalty to the World Cup winners Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez and Jean De Villiers. Meyer was also battling vocal critics back home over his commitment to racial transformation – the number of black players picked in the Springboks squad – proving the Springbok role has unique challenges to any other in world rugby.

Jean de Villiers

Too loyal: Meyer was criticised in some quarters for blind faith to ageing players

Whoever the next coach is, they will inherit the spine of a very fine side, with Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Jesse Kriel, Damien de Allende, Handre Pollard and Jan Serfontein all expected to be at the heart of South Africa’s building for Japan.

The search for a new coach will now begin, in earnest, with Alastair Coetzee, Johann Ackerman and John Mitchell the early front runners.