Heyneke Meyer ends four-year reign as South Africa head coach
Heyneke Meyer believes "the time has come for change" after bringing an end to his reign as South Africa head coach.
The South African Rugby Union said that Meyer had advised SARU president Oregan Hoskins and chief executive Jurie Roux of his desire to step down. Meyer's contract expired in four weeks' time.
Meyer, who took charge of the Springboks four years ago, led South Africa to third place in the recent England-hosted Rugby World Cup, which represented a reasonable recovery after his team suffered a shock 34-32 defeat against opening pool stage opponents Japan.
There are currently no indications about what 48-year-old Meyer might do next, although it will not go unnoticed that new England boss Eddie Jones has yet to announce the make-up of his coaching support staff.
Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt currently remain in England assistant coaching positions they held during a failed World Cup campaign under the direction of Stuart Lancaster, but it is widely expected that Jones will make changes ahead of this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship, which starts on February 6.
Meyer's Springboks reign delivered 34 victories in 50 Tests, which included one win against world champions New Zealand and two runners-up finishes in the Rugby Championship.
He had previously enjoyed prolonged success with the Pretoria-based Bulls, while he he also spent time in charge of Aviva Premiership club Leicester.
"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," Meyer told www.sarugby.net.
"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.
"I have greatly enjoyed my time as Springbok coach, although it has been highly-pressured at times and especially tough on my family, and I would like to thank them for their unwavering support in the last four years.
"I have put my heart and soul into the job and did my very best. I believe that, overall, I leave the team with much to look forward to in 2016, with new structures in place to ensure the Springboks will remain competitive on the world stage.
"The number of young players that have been blooded over the past four seasons, who chose to remain in South Africa, leave the team in a great position to move on in the next few years. I would like to wish the next coach all the success in this wonderful position.
"The Springboks are a special team, and carrying the hopes of a nation is a huge responsibility and great privilege."
SARU said that the search for a successor would begin immediately, and Hoskins paid tribute to Meyer, describing him as someone who "gave his all."
Hoskins said: "We have reached a natural watershed in many ways with a significant number of senior players either retiring or moving overseas, as well as the fact that our strategic transformation plan is now in full swing.
"Heyneke gave his all for the Springboks, and it was a great pleasure to work with such a passionate South African.
"There were many highlights during his time as coach, and those are the moments we will remember.
"He also set very high standards of behaviour for himself, his management team and his players, and he was, and is, a credit to South African rugby.
"I am sure all my colleagues join me in wishing him the very best of luck in whatever coaching path his career now takes him."