Peter de Villiers unleashed his new Springbok generation, which he said will fly the country’s rugby flag on the world stage for the next four years, on Saturday.
In what was a first for the new Springbok coach and the members of his management tea, the training squad were put through their paces at Stellenbosch University where several hundred spectators turned up to watch the fare.
Among the crowd was South Africa’s maestro wheelchair athlete Ernst van Dyk, the six-time Boston Marathon winner and former SA Davis Cup player Pietie Norval, a silver medallist at the Barcelona Olympic Games. Both personalities attracted attention from the media in attendance.
News 24 reports that De Villiers took an active part in the practice session, putting the backs through their paces. It was obvious that has not lost the touch he had when he guided the South African Under 21 (2005) and Emerging Springboks (2007) to championship triumphs on the world stage.
He told the media, just 24 hours earlier, that his enthusiasm for coaching was as great as ever. He was now looking to spread that enthusiasm in the ranks of the Springboks.
“The excitement of rugby coaching will never go out of my life, not for the next four years,” de Villiers said. “I told the players if one loses that excitement of life, one stands to lose everything. The excitement must stay with the players so that they can be the best that they can be and perform to their full potential.”
The session on the wet Stellenbosch fields started out with Springbok conditioning coach Neels Liebel warming up the players.
Liebel has followed de Villiers into the Bok ranks after they worked together at South African Under 21 and Emerging Springboks levels.
Bok assistant coach Gary Gold, the former WP Currie Cup and London Irish coach, had the forwards working out against scrumming machines and he rounded off their session with line-out drills.
The other Bok assistant coach Dick Muir has yet to report for duty as he has been heading up the Sharks’ Super 14 campaign which came to an abrupt end against the Waratahs in Sydney earlier on Saturday.
Throughout the training session, word filtered through to the players about the latest scores in Saturday’s Super 14 semi-finals.
One spin-off for the Boks from the Sharks’ defeat is that de Villiers will now have their players available for training at the start of next week. Had the Sharks reached the final it could have proved disruptive for the Springboks’ preparation as their Test caps would only have been available some two days after the May 31 final.
One big challenge facing de Villiers in the next few days will be get players to out of the elvs (experimental law variations) mode because the three in-coming Tours Tests will be played under the old laws.
Wing Tonderai Chavhanga, who is nursing a hamstring injury did not participate in the contact sessions, while hooker Chilliboy Ralepelle did light exercises with the scrumming machine under the eye of physiotherapist Rene Lombard.
Utility back Meyer Bosman suffered a slight hamstring strain during the practice and he was quickly moved out to the touchlines where an ice pack was applied to his right upper leg.
The Boks will return to Stellenbosch on Monday for their next field session after it was decided to cancel Sunday’s training. The Bok medical staff felt another session on top of Saturday’s first outing posed injury risks for the players.Tweet