Super Rugby 2017

Week Five

A Thought For The Week:

Do you remember this statement?:

“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.”

It was the same fellow who said:

“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”

Yep, it was that man Pieter de Villiers, aka PDivvy, shooting his mouth off again, as he did so many times when he was the Springbok coach. Appointed to coach the Boks from 2008 to 2011, his time in charge of Springbok rugby provided for some of the finest media moments in the history of the game. Rugby writers of the world dare not miss a single Springbok media briefing, but it was not for the rugby nor for news about the Springboks, it was to ensure that they were present when Pieter de Villiers let rip with one or another of his regular misbegotten meanderings of the mind.

The New Zealand Herald once suggested that he should just have one note with him when he attended press conferences. It should contain the words:

“Foot, Mouth, Avoid.”

It was not advice taken to heart by Mr De Villiers. He immediately set about upsetting his New Zealand hosts in 2011 by suggesting that the referees in the Tri-Nations conspired to let the All Blacks win in order to show the hosts of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in the best possible light. It was all a marketing ploy to ensure interest in the Rugby World Cup.

It was the same tournament where he suggested that Graham Henry, the All Black Coach, had a “big mouth” and that his assistant, Steve Hansen was “born with an upside down smile”…..

Some of PDivvy’s utterances have gone down in rugby history. Who will forget:

“If I am the weakest link 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.”

Or perhaps:

“I am going to pull a rat out of the hat.”

Or when he went off about the punishment dished out to Schalk Burger for making contact with British Lions’ wing Luke Fitzgerald’s eyes:

“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.”

Some other wayward moments included:

“There is little difference between winning and losing except you feel better after winning.”

“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.”

“We are very organised at the moment (after winning 2009 Tri-Nations). We do not want to become a fruit salad.”

Mr De Villiers has a very high opinion of himself, both as a person and, especially, as a rugby coach. During his time in charge of Springbok rugby he often spoke of himself in glowing terms:

“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.”

He also, memorably, suggested that he was a perfect creation: “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.”

Another bon mot: “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.”

When the 2011 Rugby World Cup was over, and Mr De Villiers’ time in charge was history, he did not ride off into the sunset to go and enjoy his retirement somewhere quiet and peaceful. Most ex-coaches quietly go about their lives, making a living as a commentator, rugby columnist, or even coaching elsewhere in the world. Very few make any comment about their ex-employers, the coaches that succeeded them, or the team they used to coach. They keep a dignified distance, and silence, about the job they used to do.

But that is not Pieter de Villiers’ style.

When his time was up, he promptly had a go at his ex-employers, the South African Rugby Union, for not offering him a post-coaching job. He asked why he was not “redeployed” somewhere else in South African Rugby? He accused them of abandoning him and doing nothing to ensure that he would be suitably employed and rewarded as some éminence grise of rugby that could offer the world the benefit of his accumulated wisdom and experience.

He did not stop with complaints about his lack of “redeployment” and a well-paid job. Since leaving the Springbok Coaching job he has been a regular face in the regular media and on social media as he has continued to vent his spleen at everyone and anyone who will listen.

Throughout his successor Heyneke Meyer’s reign as Bok coach, PDivvy regularly had something, usually uncomplimentary to say about Meyer and the Springboks.

Here are just some examples:

On the 7th of August 2015, he suggested that the Springboks were “fat” and unfit. Just five days later, on the 12th August, he suggested that Heyneke Meyer underestimated the intelligence of Black people in South Africa.

On the 19th of August he suggested that Heyeneke Meyer had taken Springbok Rugby “into the gutters…”

On the 25th August he was involved in a ceremony where a Springbok jersey was burnt.

He was a guest speaker at an event organized by SARRA (Supporters Against Racist Rugby Associations) where a Springbok jersey was burned to protest against insufficient black players in the Springbok squad.

On the 27th August he had another go at Meyer. Comparing their records as Springbok coach and suggesting that he would have been a better choice to continue as coach after 2011.

On the 21st September of the same year, he called on all Springbok Rugby players to “turn to the Lord” for some obscure reason.

During a somewhat silent 2016 he had a go at his ex-employers again for not finding him a decent job, and said that he was “unwelcome” in South African Rugby circles. He lost his job as coach at the University of the Western Cape, and went off, in a bit of a huff, to help Namibian Rugby for a while. In an interview with the Sunday Times, PDivvy said he was being blocked “everywhere I go” in South Africa, and that he was “not allowed to be part of rugby in this country anymore”.

Even the distance to Windhoek could not keep him quiet.

During 2016 he regularly had a full go at Allister Coetzee and the rugby authorities about everything, from selections to coaching camps, to the style of play and tactics, including suggesting that his “transformation policies” were better than those of Allister.

He has belittled the attempts to “fix” South African Rugby, including suggesting that the Coaching Indaba of October 2016 would achieve little. (Perhaps because he was not invited?) He had much to say about “not identifying the problem first” and stuff about “dropping the best player in the squad” and “players who focus on their individual performances and not on the team.”

At the beginning of 2017 there was some media speculation that De Villiers would take over the Boland coaching job after the somewhat controversial resignation of Alan Zondagh. Speculation did not last long as the job was offered to Randall Modiba, who has been involved with Boland Rugby for the last 15years.

Once again, PDivvy responded with the usual sideswipes and outright accusations. In an interview Jo’Burg PM he claimed that SARU paid the Boland not consider him for their head coaching position.

He said: “I don’t know what I did wrong. I think I am too strong in my way of thinking, my way of doing things. Or maybe there is something wrong with my ears, because I don’t listen to things that I know won’t work and the rugby people don’t like it. So they will never allow me to go to any Union in South Africa.”

“What I heard very early in 2016 is that people from SARU paid Boland or offered them money not to consider me. I heard it from a very good source.”

He further went onto to explain: “If people who are in charge don’t want you there you don’t go there because the working conditions will not be great for you. It will be constant fighting. In the end, you will do the players and organisation more harm by forcing yourself into the setup.”

“However, the coaching job at Boland would have been great for the players, I would have made them understand what the game is all about. I would have gotten to their heart and souls.”

On the 24th of January SARU responded in Cape Town when SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux laughed off claims at a media briefing.

But Pieter de Villiers is unstoppable!

On the 13th of March he was “stunned” by the Stormers decision to rest Siya Kolisi in their 3rd game of the year against the Kings, suggesting that Kolisi needed as much game time as possible to “learn to be a captain.”

On the 20th of March he questioned the appointment of Franco Smith as the country’s new attack coach. He ridiculed the entire Bok coaching squad, mentioning that Brendan Venter’s possible appointment is also questionable.

And just this week he has suggested that the All Blacks “may be ripe for the picking” this year.

He said: “Looking at Super Rugby, the All Blacks may be ripe for the picking in 2017 unless they improve their discipline.”

“The All Blacks were the leaders in how they handled the off-the-ball situations, the little scuffles. They never let opponents get under their skin. But in this year’s Super Rugby competition it’s been quite noticeable to see how easy they can be drawn into things off the ball that have nothing to do with the game.”

De Villiers added that the AB’s had “always been masters in getting under the opposition’s skin” and “didn’t get yellow cards for indiscipline.”

He went on to suggest that the All Blacks could be “intimidated” into losing. I quote: “But with the All Blacks saying goodbye to a few leaders over the last few years (Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Keven Mealamu, Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith), and if what I see and perceive is true, then the way to try and beat them is by intimidation, while focusing on keeping your own discipline.”

Right, Pieter, that is the way to beat the All Blacks…. Intimidate them!

We do know that there is a wire loose somewhere between Pieter de Villiers’ mouth and brain. His record of public utterances speaks for itself. He is a loose cannon, driven by some weird self-perception of his infallibility and perfection. His persecution complex means that he firmly believes that there is some dark and sinister plot against him.

I would suggest that he should simply shut up and get on with his life.

Perhaps the message to PDivvy must be clear and simple:

If you bite the hand that feeds you, that hand will not be back to offer you more..