Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - Former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers admitted to being bitter at the way he left the job, and has said he “feels sorry” for new coach Heyneke Meyer, who is already “on the back foot.”
De Villiers was speaking on Talk Radio 702 about his tenure as Bok coach when he expressed his sympathy for Meyer after he was only appointed last week into the position, despite the fact that De Villiers's contract ended at the end of last year.
De Villiers, whose stay as Bok coach was both controversial and interesting, used the recent decision by the South African Rugby Union to bring in the Kings into Super Rugby from 2013 as an example of how tough it would be for the new coach.
The pitfalls of ending last in the South African conference could see a franchise not play Super Rugby in 2013, meaning that it was do or die for some coaches in the competition. This wouldn’t impact well on the national cause.
“I feel sorry for Heyneke, because he is starting on the back foot. The franchises are already set for the new season and know the news that a new team will come into Super Rugby. The franchises will now play their players down the drain to survive, to make sure they aren’t in that bottom spot,” De Villiers said.
“It will be a very tough year, and Heyneke was only appointed now. He couldn’t sit down and talk to the franchises before they did their planning in place. He couldn’t sit down and reveal his plans and discuss with them.”
But De Villiers followed it up with a bizarre broadside at his former employers, saying that there was no exit strategy for him, his management or Bok captaincy duo of John Smit and Victor Matfield.
“Nobody spoke to me about it since I came back from the World Cup. Nobody spoke to me. Perhaps I shouldn’t speak about it, because if I speak about it, people think I am lobbying for a job. I am not criticising, this is a big organisation and there are a lot of things going on behind the scenes, but it doesn’t take much to be professional and sit down and say “listen here, we don’t think that we are going to renew your contract”. Then give you the reasons for it. Then you can move on,” De Villiers explained.
“There was no exit strategy for me. There wasn’t one for John (Smit) or Victor (Matfield). This is what caused me some bitterness in the fact that there was nothing. We didn’t talk about anything. I was surprised to hear that Jurie Roux (SARU CEO) said on radio that they were busy with the process to appoint the Bok coach since June last year.
“So since June last year they never had the opportunity to talk to me, although we were together for four weeks in New Zealand and stayed in the same hotel. We travelled together and they never had the chance to talk to me. Is that how you treat someone? I don’t know, I can have my own opinion about it, but I can’t air it because I don’t want people to be negative. We need them to support the Springboks, that’s all.
“I would love to give back what I received. It was a wonderful experience, but again, if you started the process in June then everybody would have been settled and moving on. There is a lot of uneasiness and friction in my house at the moment. Nobody knows where we are going, or what is going to happen.”
Meyer will have his first test in a three-Test series against England in June this year.