South African coach Peter de Villiers refused to change his outspoken ways but said on Thursday he would walk into the Lions changing room and congratulate rival Ian McGeechan if the Springboks lost the final Test.
Sport24 reports that with South Africa holding an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the three-match series, Saturday’s game at Coca Cola Park appears to be anticlimactic. But De Villiers has angered the Lions by apparently condoning Schalk Burger’s eye-gouging of Lions winger Luke Fitzgerald in last Saturday’s series-clinching 28-25 Springboks victory at Pretoria. The flanker was sent to the sinbin and wound up with an eight-week suspension.
Although he and South Africa’s Rugby Union later issued an apology and said eye-gouging should not be part of the game, he then said that if rough play were taken out of rugby, it would resemble a ballet performance.
“There was a lot said. I think it was too much,” De Villiers said on Thursday. “I think we must move on to the next Test.”
There has also been a dispute, however, over whether McGeechan congratulated De Villiers after Saturday’s game at Loftus Versfeld. According to the Lions, their head coach offered his congratulations after Saturday’s game but the South African media reported De Villiers as saying it didn’t happen.
“It’s our word against theirs,” he said at Thursday’s team announcement. “The South African media have already made me out to be a liar. Let’s see who wins the third Test and, if they do, I’ll go in to their changing room and give Ian McGeechan my congratulations.”
“I won’t change my style,” he said. “If I change my style I change Peter de Villiers and I go back to God and say ‘you made a bad job’ “.
De Villiers said that he had reacted to some of the “negative” media from Britain.
“What I learned is that, if they can’t beat you they try and assert their superiority in other ways,” he said in reference to the British and Irish media following the Lions tour.
“I won’t change myself. What I will do is keep my feet on the ground, be humble and be a good servant of this game.”Tweet