Time to close the “Div chapter”

The fact that Peter de Villiers is going to do a reverse on his announcement in Wellington after the Australian defeat that it was “The end of the road” for him as Bok coach, and actually apply for the Bok job should it be advertised, should not change the process one iota.

Because it simply has to be the end of the road as far as De Villiers’ interaction with anything remotely Green and Gold. The Springboks, fans, SARU, and the country have suffered enough at the hands of this man. And SARU need to learn from this …

De Villiers announcement as Bok coach in 2008 got off to a rocky start with SARU president Oregan Hoskins suggesting that the appointment was not entirely for rugby reasons. He obviously knew what was coming, yet De Villiers coached the world champions for four years. I wonder if a white coach would have got away with the results De Villiers delivered?

And before the “Bloody racist pig” jibes start … Please know that I am an advocate of “Righting the wrongs of the past” … I just believe in merit selections and appointments more strongly. Development is not about quotas at the highest level, but about giving people an equal opportunity at the very lowest level – schools, and then making sure the selection process from there on in is as flawless as possible.

Oh for the day when a selection or appointment (be it in sport or in the business world) does not have to carry any form of BEE, development or quota criteria … Too naïve? Too bad … That’s me …

Mark Keohane got it right in a recent column on www.keo.co.za: “Let’s get it right this time. Surely it shouldn’t be a debate that the Springboks should be coached by the best in the game. Individual agendas have always suffocated and divided South African rugby, but the only agenda should be the collective one of ensuring we have a coaching team that is the envy of everyone else.”

De Villiers took over the World Champion Boks and got told by the senior players in that team that they would do him a favour and not retire, rather sticking it out in order to try and retain the Web Ellis trophy in 2011. In return, De Villiers let out a massive sigh of relief, handed over the reins to said senior players, brought nothing new to the team, and was thus obligated to warm up that same set of players for the defence at this year’s showpiece in New Zealand.

Protagonists will speak of the first win in New Zealand in 2008, the Tri-Nations victory in 2009, the Lions series win in the same year and the fact that he brought through players like Heinrich Brussow, Morne Steyn, Pat Lambie and Fancois Hougaard …

But I will remember the lucky bounce for Ricky Januarie (and continued selection of the pedestrian scrumhalf), calling back John Smit to restore the ship in the first Lions Test, getting lucky in the second, being hammered in the third, and De Villiers being extremely reticent to select any of the afore mentioned players, especially early on in their careers.

I will also remember the move of Smit to tighthead prop in what must be the rugby faux pas of the decade, taking the over-played senior players to Wales in 2010 instead of blooding youngsters, doing the same on the End of Year Tour of that same year, refusing to entertain any thought of trying to play a more modern ball in hand game, and having to remove his foot from his mouth after almost every press conference …

That the Boks were competitive in New Zealand and only stopped from reaching a semi final in part by an unbelievably poor refereeing performance, was despite De Villiers and down to the incredible rugby talent available in this country.

Talent that now deserves to be harnessed and molded by the best coach the planet has to offer …

It is time to close the Peter de Villiers chapter of Bok rugby, and bring it out only on Halloween, when nightmares are the order of the night …

Peter de Villiers
"Not entirely for rugby reasons ..."


  1. You are right!! Let’s close this chapter!!! There is more than capable coaches for this job , but will Saru and parliament have the same agenda this time around! I can remember what the great Shaun Fitzpatrick said after the 2003 RWC in Aus! “I will shiver the day that S.A. will get it right with all the talent in that country”! I wish that will we do it now!

  2. I live in Namibia, and with all my heart support the Springboks, but it was a sad day when Div was appointed.
    I fully agree with this article. We should get a decent coach and restore the springbok pride again.

  3. I think some may have the opinion that ‘if you blame the coach for all the f*** ups then he needs to get the credit for the wins too’.

    Fair point to a degree because if Januarie, or any other scrumhalf, had gotten the ‘lucky bounce’ against the ABs during Jakes tenure it would not have been seen that way. So it’s how you spin it.

    That said, I yoyo’d with my opinions on Div during his tenure (which has hopefully expired) but now I have this simple opinion …

    During his tenure, all losses are the fault of 1) SA Rugby for appointing and sticking with Div, and 2) The senior players for doing a bad management job (as it seems it was their job). All wins are to the credit of the players for overcoming adversity to manage the team to some phenomenal wins in spite of the coach. I think 4 years was a push though to expect them to be successful as player/coaches 🙂

  4. I agree with your article to a large extent, specifically that it really is time for Div to go and that selections and appointments should be based on merit and merit alone.

    With this in mind, I truly believe that Alistair Coetzee should be our next coach. His qualifications, experience and RESULTS speak for themselves, and the fact that he is the ‘right’ colour, given the ongoing and prevailing circumstances in our country, is for me merely the cherry on top, which certainly wasn’t the case with Div.

    Even if SARU was ‘evolved’ enough in a professional sense to consider appointing a ‘foreign’ coach, I would be more than happy with Coetzee at the wheel, particularly 4 years from now at the next World Cup. Because although John Mitchell would undoubtedly introduce more attacking flair to our game, World Cups are still won with defence – as evidenced by NZ scraping through the final against France. For all the attractiveness with which they played, Mitchell’s All Blacks did not and could not win the Cup with him in charge. And lets not forget how the Stormers of 2010 showed heaps of innovation and creativity on attack, so it’s not as though Coetzee only knows about defence.

    Sorry, Div, but that’s my 2 cents.

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