South Africa dare to dream of ‘doing a Bannister’

No side has won a World Cup after losing a pool match but coach Heyneke Meyer believes his Springboks can break their own four-minute mile

LONDON, 5 Oct – There is always a first time. Heyneke Meyer, the Springboks coach, turned his focus on a great British sporting breakthrough as he offered his conviction that his team could become history-makers at Rugby World Cup 2015.

Meyer, who might have been forgiven for feeling like South Africa’s public enemy number one a fortnight ago following the defeat by Japan, was in more buoyant mood on Monday as he served up the story of barrier-breaker Sir Roger Bannister to remind everyone why he feels his men could achieve a trailblazing milestone of their own.

Reminded that no team in any of the seven previous editions of the World Cup had ever lost a pool match and gone on to win the tournament, Meyer mused at the news conference to announce his team for Wednesday’s Pool B match with USA: “There are so many examples of comebacks throughout the world that people said can’t happen.

“They said the mile would never be run in under four minutes; now everybody does it. I’m a very, very positive person. I believe everything is possible, and I’ve been in situations where I’ve lost every single game and come back and won trophies. The guys know it’s possible. A lot of these guys have done it before.”

A little like Bannister back in 1954 when he crashed through the four-minute barrier in Oxford (pictured below), there is an inevitability that one day, a team will come back from a reverse in rugby’s biggest tournament to lift the cup.

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