JOHANNESBURG – He was often dismissed as the jester of the rugby world, but Peter de Villiers believes that Saru is living in a fool’s paradise and that Springbok rugby has gone backwards.
De Villiers – who was recently appointed coach of Zimbabwe – was the last Springbok coach to win the then-Tri-Nations and to beat the All Blacks in their own backyard, while also guiding the side to a series win against the British and Irish Lions.
He feels that the side has been on a downward spiral under former coaches Heyneke Meyer and Allister Coetzee.
“It doesn’t make me feel good because I know that my country went backwards in eight years. It is not that they have gone backwards, but if you stagnate in any way in life, you will go backwards because everybody is going past you,” De Villiers said at a press conference in Johannesburg on Monday.
While De Villiers has the unenviable task of breathing life back into Zimbabwe rugby and guiding them to qualification for next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan, De Villiers says Saru need to get their house in order before extending an olive branch to African nations that they have neglected over the years.
“My principle in life is to get your own house in order first. For them to go to any other African country now, who will believe them? Who will follow their structures? Who will want to be like them?
“I think they must spend more money and time to get their house in order if they want to make an impact and make people believe that they can follow them.
“Even if they have the resources to help those African countries, would they believe in them or take what they can give, and go on and do their own thing?”
De Villiers’ first game in charge will be in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup on June 16 against Morocco in Zimbabwe.
* Read the full story in Tuesday’s Pretoria News, The Star, The Mercury and Cape Times newspapers.