Bok staff - four heads to roll
Dick Muir, Gary Gold and Peter de Villiers. (Gallo Images)
Cape Town – The heads of four members of the Springbok management team may roll on Friday.
Dick Muir, Gary Gold (both assistant coaches), Neels Liebel (conditioning coach) and Anthony Mackaiser (media liaison) are all believed to be in the firing line.
While the South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Thursday refused to break their silence on the matter, it is believed that there has been a lot of action behind the scenes.
An announcement may even be made as soon as Friday.
In a further development, it has emerged that the Springbok emblem – the most famous emblem in world rugby - will move from the chest to the sleeve of the Springbok jersey for next year’s World Cup in New Zealand.
Coach Peter de Villiers had his performance evaluation in Johannesburg on Monday following a disastrous Tri-Nations campaign in which South Africa lost five out of six games.
Since then there has been speculation that Heyneke Meyer, Frans Ludeke, John Mitchell and Allister Coetzee have turned down the opportunity to work with De Villiers.
The possibility now exists that the Boks will have to tour with coaching consultants in place of Muir and Gold.
Western Province director of coaching Rassie Erasmus is again being linked as a possible consultant. However, he is contracted with WP until 2012 and the Cape union have already stated that he will not be leaving them.
Reports on Thursday that De Villiers had approached Ludeke and Coetzee would have placed major strain on the relationship between the beleaguered Bok coach and his assistants.
While Muir and Gold are in the firing line, De Villiers will lose a close ally if SARU decide to axe Liebel.
Mackaiser may pay the price for De Villiers’s controversial media statements, though informed people in the rugby fraternity believe that the coach should really be taking the responsibility.
It is rumoured that SARU communications boss Andy Colquhoun will act as media liaison until next year’s World Cup.
SARU will enter a new era on Friday with Jurie Roux starting his reign as chief executive. Indications are that Roux’s first day may be a stormy one.
Ironically, he took De Villiers on board as a consultant at Maties when the Bok coach was unemployed at the time.
The situation with the Boks is now a major crisis, with the team set to start its preparations for the first Test of their Grand Slam tour against Ireland in less than a month’s time.
It’s still uncertain whether senior Boks will stay at home, who the captain will be in the absence of John Smit, and who will help De Villiers coach the side.
The only certainty that South Africa have is the names of the referees that will take charge of their four Tests against Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England. The respective referees are Nigel Owens, Steve Walsh, Stuart Dickinson and George Clancy.
Sport24 requested comment from SARU president Oregan Hoskins, but Colquhoun said he doubted this would be forthcoming.