Lions in SA

De Villiers 'in fairyland'

2009-07-07 11:27
Peter de Villiers (File)
Cape Town – Springbok coach Peter de Villiers continues to get damning personal reviews after the British and Irish Lions tour, with National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel’s spirited defence seemingly a voice in the wilderness.

Manuel said on Tuesday that De Villiers’s critics would do well to examine statistics before calling for his head.

But majority sentiment in the media, both home and abroad, retained high levels of scorn on Wednesday against the controversial coach despite the World Cup champions edging the series 2-1.

Jeremy Guscott, the former Lions centre whose dropped goal sealed the 1997 series in favour of the tourists, said De Villiers was “away with the fairies”.

In his BBC column, Guscott, who was a popular addition to SuperSport’s coverage of the latest series, said that “in marked contrast … (Lions mastermind) Ian McGeechan was Obama-esque with his choice of words at press conferences and after-match interviews.”

Praising the Boks for their win, Guscott added: “In sport, as with life in general, we don’t live in a world of ifs, buts and maybes. It’s tough out there, and only the strong survive. South Africa proved they were the strongest. But only just.”

Eddie Butler, in his tour wrap for the Guardian, said: “There were so many contrasts – for instance the coaching styles of Peter de Villiers and Ian McGeechan, one highly excitable, the other as measured as the middle of the net on Centre Court.”

And Nick Cain of The Times persisted with the fairly widely-held view that De Villiers is relatively impotent as a strategist.

“There are rumblings already about the quality of the coaching and tactical planning being offered by De Villiers, with strong rumours that the squad is being run by captain John Smit and a group of senior players, and that they are re-visiting a Jake White 2007 blueprint which is becoming staler by the day.

“Smit is a great Springbok captain, but the halo slipped at Ellis Park with his advocacy of the ‘Justice 4 Bakkies Botha’ white armband protest, and a stronger coach with better judgement than De Villiers would have nipped it in the bud.

“He would have also told his bench to stop larking around on the pitch like kids minutes before the kick-off of a Test in which they were given a lesson by a Lions side playing for pride.”

Back home, Manuel’s protest, revealingly, was not shared by government colleague Makhenkesi Stofile, the Minister of Sport.

Stofile was quoted by the domestic Daily News newspaper as saying: “The role of the coach is to prepare the team. I know Peter well and like him, but the more he talks, the more confused he gets.

“He can get away with making colourful remarks while we are winning, but when we are losing it will be a serious problem.

“He will be the first to be fired and he has to sober up.”


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