LOONYLAND, otherwise known as the world of South African Rugby, delved deeper into the absurd yesterday when its president, Oregan Hoskins, labelled SANZAR’s disciplinary hearing over comments made by Springboks coach Peter de Villiers as ”a declaration of war by Australia and New Zealand against South Africa”.
Greg Growden reports for The Sydney Morning Herald that Hoskins’s comments came as the eccentric de Villiers admitted he was accustomed to being described as a ”clown” and amid growing speculation the Springboks coaching panel is divided and assistants Gary Gold and Dick Muir could be sacked soon.
The kerfuffle has been prompted by comments made by de Villiers on Australian television before the Brisbane Test last month when he suggested the Springboks were the victims of a conspiracy, with numerous refereeing decisions going the All Blacks’ way because they were hosting next year’s World Cup.
”I’ve got my own observations about the last two Tests and I can’t say it in public,” de Villiers said on the Fox Sports Rugby Club program. ”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.”
Several days later, South African officials issued a statement attempting to convince SANZAR and the general public that de Villiers had been misunderstood.
SANZAR nonetheless decided that the comments warranted de Villiers facing its judicial officer, Jannie Lubbe, in Cape Town on Friday on an alleged misconduct charge. South African newspapers yesterday reported that local officials were furious that de Villiers would have to appear before the judiciary, and Hoskins was quoted as saying: ”We are right behind Peter and will defend him to the hilt.”
South African officials have also questioned the motives of Australia and New Zealand.
Hoskins confirmed that de Villiers had promised in an ”informal discussion” that he would not make any more controversial remarks about referees. However, several South African newspapers have been reporting serious rifts within the coaching panel, with Rapport stating that Muir and Gold were facing ”possible dismissal”.
And the ”clown” issue has bobbed up once again. Former Wallaby Brendan Cannon was forced to publicly apologise for calling de Villiers a clown on air. And now de Villiers is using the term himself. On the South African Rugby Union’s official website, de Villiers responded to one fan query: ”As for the criticism, I have had it since before day one! But it goes with the territory – a winning Bok coach is a superman; a losing Bok coach is a ‘clown’, I’ve learnt to take both with a inch of salt.”Tweet