TWICKENHAM, October 17 – South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer said he “would like to kiss” Fourie du Preez after the Springbok captain scored a match-winning try in a 23-19 World Cup quarter-final win over Wales at Twickenham on Saturday.
Two-time world champions South Africa were a point down with five minutes left when, off the back of a scrum, No 8 Duane Vermeulen’s superbly-timed pass released scrum-half du Preez, who went in over on the blindside as a training ground move worked to perfection.
Meyer who first coached du Preez — a player he labelled a “rugby genius” — as a teenager and persuaded the 2007 World Cup-winner to end his Test retirement, said: “I would like to kiss Fourie, especially after that try.
“I always said coaching is over-rated, you need character and character is like charcoal — press hard and you get a diamond,” added Meyer, who made du Preez his skipper after first-choice captain Jean de Villiers (jaw) and Victor Matfield (hamstring) were both sidelined through injury.
South Africa started this World Cup with the shock of a 34-32 loss to Japan but have since bounced back in style.
“We’ve been blessed,” said Meyer. “I want to thank the people back home. The support since the Japan game has been unbelievable, I had tears in my eyes.”
Meanwhile beaten Wales coach Warren Gatland said: “I’m absolutely gutted. The players emptied the tank.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t good enough to hold for on the full 80 minutes,” added Gatland, who four years ago guided Wales to a World Cup semi-final in his native New Zealand.
“Credit to South Africa, they stayed in the game.”
As for the match-winning try, which saw a couple of Wales defenders sucked in-field,” Gatland said: “It was disappointing from us, but you’ve got to acknowledge the skill of South Africa.”