SARU: War declared on SA
Rudolph Lake and Henry Cloete
Johannesburg and Cape Town – The SANZAR hearing of Springbok coach Peter de Villiers is a “declaration of war by Australia and New Zealand against South Africa”.
That is the view of South African rugby bosses, who are rallying behind the beleaguered coach. They have questioned the Aussies and Kiwis’ motives.
“We are right behind Peter and will defend him to the hilt,” said SARU president Oregan Hoskins.
Hoskins confirmed that De Villiers had promised in an “informal discussion” in which he and his assistant coaches had to report back about the Springboks’ pathetic Tri-Nations campaign that he would not make anymore controversial remarks about referees.
De Villiers will shortly have to appear in a SANZAR hearing about comments made on Australian television after the Boks’ two recent defeats against the All Blacks.
Meanwhile, former Springbok team psychologist Henning Gericke has said that there are strong indications that all is not well in the camp of the current Bok squad. Gericke worked on the World Cup-winning management team of 2007.
The leaders in the team are possibly too soft on one another and the players in the squad, he suggested. The balance of power may have swung to the players.
That can be among the explanations for South Africa’s poor performances in this year’s Tri-Nations. The team’s poor discipline, in particular, points to problems.
“Does that mean the players have too much freedom? They will have to be tough on one another. John Smit is a great leader, but he will have to step up. He’s not standing out at the moment. If you’re not there psychologically, you will get results like these,” said Gericke.
“What Peter did really well was to empower the players. But it’s a very fine line ... Only the squad will know, but it’s quite possible that the balance swung too much to the players. Peter will have to show mental toughness and address the issue.”
He believes the fact that De Villiers is hammering on refereeing errors shows that the focus of the team is not on the right areas.
De Villiers had to explain his selections and game plan to the country’s rugby bosses on Thursday.
Rapport’s sources indicate that his assistant coaches – Dick Muir and Gary Gold – were facing possible dismissal.
However, rugby bosses denied that De Villiers had shifted the blame to his assistant coaches.
Reliable sources indicated that De Villiers had admitted that he, as well as Muir and Gold, had made mistakes.
He asked to be able to speak to them to “iron out small problems” before sackings are considered.
The rugby bosses agreed and afterwards expressed their satisfaction about a “straight, honest and fruitful” chat.
De Villiers and the Boks are facing an official assessment by SARU’s technical committee this week.
Sport24 understands that Golden Lions president Kevin de Klerk will be used to head up the assessment.