First sub-4min mile spurs Meyer's historic bid

South Africa's scrum-half and captain Fourie du Preez passing the ball during a training session. The Springboks are attempting to become the first team to win the World Cup after a defeat in the pool stage. They were shocked 34-32 by the Japanese in
South Africa's scrum-half and captain Fourie du Preez passing the ball during a training session. The Springboks are attempting to become the first team to win the World Cup after a defeat in the pool stage. They were shocked 34-32 by the Japanese in their opener.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has taken inspiration from the first sub four-minute mile as the Springboks bid to make Rugby World Cup history.

Every World Cup-winning team - including South Africa in 1995 and 2007 - have gone through the tournament unbeaten.

Springbok fans thought their team's chances nosedived after a stunning 34-32 defeat by Japan in their Pool B opener, a result regarded as the greatest upset in World Cup history.

Meyer, however, cited running a mile in under four minutes, once thought to be impossible until Britain's Roger Bannister clocked 3min 59.4 sec in 1954, as an example of a once staggering feat that was now commonplace.

South Africa responded to their shock reverse with a 46-6 win over Samoa and last weekend's 34-16 defeat of Scotland.

Now they top their group and are on course for a quarter-final against Australia or Wales.

But they still have one more pool match today against the United States at London's Olympic Stadium before the knockout stages.

"We don't look past this game," Meyer said on Monday. "That's been our problem, where we couldn't build game on game.

"One thing about South Africans, if we don't pitch up and are not physical, then we are beatable.

"But there are so many examples of comebacks that people said can't happen. They said the mile would never be run in under four minutes; now everybody does it."

"I believe everything is possible, and the guys know this is," added Meyer, criticised heavily after the Japan match. "But we know we have to get through this game.

"People say things to be nice, but we really respect the USA. They've shown they're very difficult to play against, very physical, a lot of big, strong forwards and great runners in midfield."

Meyer repeated the team mantra that "every single game is actually a final".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

RUGBY WORLD CUP
Pool B: South Africa v United States
(Singtel TV Ch115 & StarHub Ch209, 11.30pm)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2015, with the headline 'First sub-4min mile spurs Meyer's historic bid'. Print Edition | Subscribe