P Divvy Is at It Again!
I am getting a bit tired of ex-Springbok coach, Peter de Villiers, “Snorre” as some know him, I usually refer to him as PDivvy. He has become somewhat predictable…………
Whilst I am given to understand that the man is actually not a bad rugby coach, as a public relations figure he is a combination of Titanic, Pearl Harbour, Groucho Marx, and Krakatoa. Not only does he shoot himself in the foot more often than anyone I have ever come across, but he wounds nearly every observer and some innocent bystanders as he takes aim at that foot!
He is at it again!
As new Zimbabwe coach Peter de Villiers has, for the umpteenth time, launched a scathing attack on SA Rugby, claiming that they tried to prevent him from getting employment. (He has never explained why they do not want him to get a job.)
This is not the first time that de Villiers has made these suggestions. A year ago, in January 2017, during an interview on a radio show, Jo’burg PM, De Villiers claimed somebody at SARU paid the provincial union, Boland, bribes not to hire him.
He is quoted as saying: “They will never allow me to go to any rugby union in South Africa. What I heard very early last year is that people from SARU paid Boland actually, or offered them money not to even consider me,”
“I heard it from a very good source.”
He also said that he believes the local rugby fraternity simply don’t understand his methods.
“I don’t know what I have done wrong. I think I am too strong,”
“My way of thinking, my way of doing things is too different. Maybe there’s something wrong with my ears because I don’t listen to things I know won’t work.
“And the rugby people don’t like it.”
This was not his first attack on SARU and South African rugby in general.
Shortly after his term as Springbok Coach ended in 2011, when his 4-year contract expired, he had a very public go at SARU for not arranging some post-Springbok coaching job for him, some full-time position to allow the country to learn from his experiences as Springbok coach, a job that would allow him to settle back into normal life without having to worry about paying the bills. He was more than a little miffed that he had been “abandoned.”
He has had a constant, somewhat haphazard, vendetta against his previous employers ever since.
Now, after being appointed coach of Zimbabwe, de Villiers headed straight for the nearest microphone and launched into his previous employers again.
He made several accusations against his former employers, saying that they blacklisted him, offered unions money not to appoint him as their coach and even phoned the Zimbabwe Rugby Union, trying to dissuade them from making him their new national coach.
“I am so glad to be the new Zimbabwe coach, it gave me comfort because I am not welcome in my own country, so I am leaving,” De Villiers told the Citizen.
“The first thing I will do when I get to Zimbabwe is sing the national anthem, because they want me there. The Springboks don’t want me.”
“I got a call from the Zimbabwe Rugby Union to say there is a problem, SA Rugby say I am blacklisted and they cannot appoint me.” (But they did, Divvy…. You have the job….)
“When Boland wanted to make me coach, someone from SA Rugby offered them R2 million not to appoint me, and a union like that cannot afford to say no to that sort of money.”
“SA Rugby does not want to hear from me, they will say I am bitter, but they are deluding themselves. If you say to someone ‘What do you know?’, then you don’t want to learn from anyone else. As Springbok coach, I knew what I had and how to utilise the players.”
“My biggest disappointment was that Allister Coetzee and Heyneke Meyer never made the time to talk to me so I could share my experiences of how badly I was treated with them. Rassie Erasmus came to the World Cup for four weeks in 2011 and Heyneke chose to speak to him about the four years I was in charge.”
If you have around 12 minutes of your life to fritter away, listen to PDivvy’s interview broadcast on SABC TV. You will find the video link at the top of this article.
Remember then, that this is the man who, after he had proudly worn the Springbok blazer as coach, and publically desired a continuation of his employment as some kind of super-mentor, was a guest speaker at an August 2015 event where a group of supporters burned a Springbok jersey.
De Villiers attended the launch of a new organisation, Supporters Against Racist Rugby Associations (SARRA), in Mossel Bay, where the group burned a Springbok rugby jersey in protest against insufficient players of colour in the Springbok team. They felt that not enough was being done to speed up the transformation process in South African rugby.
De Villiers attended the event as the guest speaker.
(I am not sure if SARRA still exist, they have no website, and Google searches show their last activity to be the launch party in 2015.)
During the same period that he was attending the SARRA function, De Villiers was also on the attack against the then Springbok coach, Heyneke Meyer.
“I believe the Boks’ problems started in the build-up to the Test, when Heyneke Meyer underestimated the intelligence of black people with a dishonest selection,” (This was said after South Africa’s 2015 Durban loss to the Argentineans by 37-25.)
Later he went on to say:
“Do the people in charge of our rugby have enough knowledge about the game to keep us ahead?”
“By allegedly offering Meyer a new four-year term, it appears the SA Rugby Union does not want to be a world leader. It signed a contract with a man who has taken our rugby into the gutters.”
This, just two months or so after he had presided over the burning of the jersey.
Lest we forget, some of his statements have been decidedly racial in tone:
In June 2009, shortly after the first test between the Springboks and British and Irish Lions at Loftus Versveld in Pretoria, De Villiers was quoted as saying:
“What I’ve learned in South Africa is that if you take your car to a garage where the owner is a black man and he messes up then you’ll never go back to that garage again. If the owner’s a white man you say, ‘ah, he made a mistake’, and you go back.”
He also said: “I think I should walk away from this job and give it back to the whites.”
But, before you take Peter de Villiers seriously, I would remind you of some of his more infamous utterances:
“If I am the weakest line then we are bloody strong. I am a God-given talent. I am the best I can ever be. I know what I am and I don’t give a damn.”
“I am going to pull a rat out of the hat.”
Reacting to Schalk Burger eye-gouging British and Irish Lions wing Luke Fitzgerald:- “If we want to eye-gouge any Lions we will go down to the bushveld like we do and eye- gouge them there.” and “Why don’t we go to the nearest ballet shop, get some tutus and get a dancing shop going? There will be no eye gouging, no tackling, no nothing, and we will enjoy it.”
The Mandela of rugby: “I managed to unite more people in this country. I don’t want to bring Mandela in here, but I think I was the Mandela of rugby … I brought hope to people, to motivate them and encourage them to learn.”
“There is little difference between winning and losing except you feel better after winning.”
“Graham Henry is a good coach, but he is like me, he has a big mouth.”
– Commenting on the current New Zealand coach
“In our group we are expecting tough games from Tonga and Fiji.” – Tonga were not in the Boks’ group.
“No one is born a rugby player. You are born a person who becomes a rugby player and I can enhance this with warmth and reach your soul and make you realise there is life after rugby.”
“I always knew I was destined for something big — but I did not realise it would be this big (Springbok coach). Whatever job I did I always excelled at it, and quickly. Time is not a concern to me and I will work 24 hours to get a job done, knowing hard work is always rewarded.”
“I will not change my style. If I change my style I will change Peter de Villiers and then I would have to tell God that he made a mistake when he made me.”
“We are very organised at the moment (after winning 2009 Tri-Nations). We do not want to become a fruit salad.”
“I have got a job to do. I think I am a strong individual, a strong character. I do not care what people think about me. I do not care what people say about me. It is what I think about me and myself – and I love myself a lot.”
“I don’t care if people don’t understand me. It’s not my duty to say directly to your face that you’re ugly, I say you aren’t pretty and if you can’t read between the lines then it’s not my problem. There’s no pill for stupid”
“We do understand going to the world that people don’t keep South Africans in high regard. They look down on us and think we’re a bunch of hooligans and that there are elephants running in the street. You can see it when referees make decisions … it’s always a kind of biased thing.”
“I know dancing is also a contact sport but rugby is far from dancing. If you want to run with the big dogs then sometimes you have to lift your leg”
“If I lie in hospital and I hear they are putting someone’s head back on that was ripped off by Schalk then I’d say: ‘That’s Schalk, he plays aggressive but he’s not malicious’”
“What we try to tell them is when you point your finger into the sky, don’t concentrate on the finger because you’ll miss all the heavenly glory out there. Concentrate on the heavenly glory you can bring and make yourselves so fulfilled.”
“The same people who threw their robes on the ground when Jesus rode on a donkey were the same people who crowned him and hit him with sticks, and were the same people who said afterwards how we shouldn’t have done that, he’s the son of God. So that’s exactly what we do. You have to look at history as repeating itself. And I’m not saying that I’m God.”
“The small things like judicial hearings will not take away the fact that we won. Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk won the Nobel Peace Prize. No matter what they did wrong in their lives, no one can take away the fact that they won it.”
He suggested the international referees were biased:
“Speaking to IRB referee’s boss Paddy O’ Brien is a complete waste of time. People don’t want to see other teams being successful. That is my biggest problem at the moment. We can’t go public about certain things because we don’t have all the evidence, but the body language of certain officials when things went against us in that game made us worry. The officials were so happy when decisions went against us on the day. I am talking about the number one rugby team in the world. Shouldn’t they really get the other guys to that level? Or do they want to break things down so that the game can become mediocre and everyone has a chance to win it. We don’t want to dwell on that point, but if that is the case, then I feel I am wasting my time by talking to them. I will then have to reconsider talking to them.”
Before a Newlands Test against the All Blacks, which the Boks lost:
“If you look at the Bible and see how Joseph got out of the pit and ended up in the palace, but between the pit and the palace there was a moerse lot of kak.”
On beating the All Blacks:
“We went wild, wild, wild — some of the guys went wilder than that.”
On journalists and the media:
“I don’t care. I don’t take an interest in your job, but I’m glad you take an interest in mine.”
He accused the All Blacks of cheating:
“I know the game. Technically, I’m very strong. When I said the All Blacks were cheaters in the first Test in Wellington, I picked up some of the technical stuff they did wrong in the scrums and how they played outside of the laws and how they used that to good effect. I also picked up that, instead of standing a metre apart in the line-outs, they stood a metre and a half apart so that we couldn’t compete; and anything outside of any law is cheating.”
“Ninety-five per cent of people all around the world are conventional people, they go with the crowd. They only do what other people do. They can’t be their own person. I’ve got a job to do. I think I’m a strong individual, a strong character. I don’t care what people think about me, I don’t care what people say about me. It’s what I think about me and myself – and I love myself a lot. It’s about me and my team and my country. If I’m respected in my team, I don’t care about what other people think.”
More about himself:
” I am a ‘small-brain’ person. A small-brain person doesn’t need to go sit down and study over what he’s going to say to people; it comes naturally. People who study and get A’s and B’s are clever people. But people who don’t go and study and have all that wisdom are wise.”
About those who do not like him much
“If you look at those people who say all those things about me you will ask: How did God manage to create those people?”
On Life in South Africa:
“I believe life within your own country is sometimes a burden because you have to face it every day, but when you go outside your borders, you see it is actually worse.”
About not making public his view that the All Blacks are being favoured:
“I’ve got my own observations about the last two Tests, and I can’t say it in public. But we do have a World Cup in New Zealand next year, and maybe it was the right thing for them to win the games so they can attract more people to the games next year.”
And folks, there is an awful lot more. PDivvy is a PR man’s nightmare and a media dream. On a slow day, de Villiers will say something that will sell your newspaper or media website.
I will close with a thought expressed by the New Zealand Herald’s staff: “You dare not miss a Peter de Villiers press conference. Whatever the situation, de Villiers can be relied on to utter something unpredictable, often wholly absurd.”