Pieter de Villiers said some strange things at press conferences but when he was coach of the Springboks they won a series against the British and Irish Lions and was coach when the Springboks beat the All Blacks in New Zealand compared to the current state of Springbok rugby most of us supporters long for that kind of success now.
In his previous appointments as coach of the Falcons and the SA u-21 team ‘Div’, as he was affectionately known (depending on how you look at that though), coached an attacking brand of rugby.
When ‘Div’ succeeded Jake White as Springbok coach the rugby public were never happy with this appointment and believed it was made due to the colour of his skin. Most SA rugby supporters would have preferred Heyneke Meyer to have been appointed.
‘Div’ did attempt to implement a more attacking gameplan but was soon set straight by the two most senior members of the Springbok squad in John Smit and Victor Matfield. ‘Div’ knew that the chances of successfully trying to change this leopards spots were unlikely. He was on a hiding to nothing with the media and the supporters and was surrounded by senior players that believed with all their being that Domkrag was the correct and only way for the Springboks to play. ‘Div’ chose not to alienate himself and recognised that with that group of players Domkrag was the only way.
‘Div’ did try to inject some attacking intent with selections like Ricky Januarie and Adrian Jacobs. Most Springbok fans disregarded these players naming them quota selections. I will never forget Ricky Januarie making a break in the Springbok v All Black test in Dunedin chipping and collecting again scoring the match winner and Springbok fans erupting into delirium.
‘Div’ was a good man manager but with all the great Domkrag minds in one team the team kind of made it’s own direction with ‘Div’ controlling lightly on the tiller. He actually never had a bad spell as Springbok coach but in the loss to Australia in the quarter-final in Wellington , New Zealand of the 2011 RWC the Springboks totally dominated the game but could not convert pressure into points as their attack was inept. The age old Domkrag complaint of blaming the ref took years to abate and mere mention of that game sparks a new outcry.
‘Div’ coached an out and out Domkrag team but truth is he was only guilty by association.