Gavin Rich - SuperSport
Johannesburg - Peter de Villiers says he will definitely apply for the Springbok coaching job should applications be asked for after his current tenure comes to an end next month.
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There has been some confusion since the Boks were knocked out of the recent World Cup in New Zealand at the quarterfinal stage by Australia as to whether De Villiers, the incumbent national coach, would seek a second term after media confusion over statements he made at two separate press conferences after that 11-9 defeat.
At the post-match press conference he said that he knew it was the end of the road for him and he knew when it was time to go, which was widely interpreted as being a resignation. However 30 hours later, after the Bok squad had touched down at Oliver Tambo International Airport, De Villiers said he had not resigned.
De Villiers has cleared up some of that confusion by saying that the post-match statements were merely recognition that the match at the Wellington Regional Stadium had been his final one in the contracted period.
“When I signed in 2008 I signed until the end of 2011, I always knew that, so it had to be the end of the road for me in terms of what I was contracted to do,” said De Villiers.
“To me there was no confusion, and I don’t see myself as fighting with anybody – I was contracted for four years, and the four years is now over. I always knew that would be the case. My attitude has always been that no-one has the right to be Bok coach, that it is a caretaker position. After December I am not Bok coach anymore. That is not a problem to me, that was always going to be the case.
“There were no more games for the Boks this year after the quarterfinal, so as far as the public were concerned, the World Cup quarterfinal was the end of my stint as Bok coach. That is what I was trying to say.”
But after four years of growing into the job, De Villiers believes he has the credentials to continue if the South African Rugby Union want him to, and the manner of the Bok exit from the World Cup has made him keen to do so.
“Not winning the World Cup makes me feel like there is unfinished business, that the story isn’t finished. So if they call for applications for the Springbok job I will definitely apply for it. Why not? I have enjoyed doing the job and it was a privilege for me to serve my country. If I apply and my application is not accepted that is fine, I will accept what is good for South African rugby and move on. The next coach will have my full support.”
De Villiers’ desire to continue has been heightened by the bizarre manner of his team’s exit from the World Cup, with the Boks dominating the game and referee Bryce Lawrence later being widely condemned by the world rugby media for the way he handled it.
“I don’t want to make excuses. We got knocked out and as I said when we got back from overseas, a quarterfinal defeat wasn’t good enough and we failed the nation. But what was so frustrating was that we appeared to be peaking at the right time, and there was still room for further growth. I feel the story has been left unfinished,” he said.
“I made a lot of mistakes along the way, but you learn from those mistakes, and I believe that I have learned sufficiently that if I was to get a chance to do it again, I wouldn’t make those same mistakes again.
“When you first take the job there is so much that is new, there is so much you have to get used to in terms of international rugby and the Springbok culture. I believe I have something to offer, but that would be up to Saru to decide. I am just saying I am available and will apply for the job if applications are asked for. I love serving my country.”