Manuel defends De Villiers's record

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers received support from an unexpected yet impeccable source on Tuesday—National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel.

In a letter to Business Day editor Peter Bruce, Manuel took him to task for a comment that De Villiers “just isn’t up to the job”.

The Springboks lost dismally to the Lions in the third and final Test on Saturday, but, as Manuel pointed out, still won the series 2-1.

“What matters in sport is the result. Surely what matters in respect of the Springbok coach in this instance is that, unlike so many of his predecessors, he scored a series against the British and Irish Lions?

“Perhaps more importantly, I would invite the editor, who’s not the sports writer, to compare De Villiers’ results with that of his predecessors and only then arrive at a studied conclusion about his fitness for the job,” wrote the former finance minister.

He said South Africans arrived too easily at conclusions without “any reference to facts or statistics”.

Manuel said he was “bitterly misunderstood on the subject of recession because I argued then, as I would even about rugby, that we should let the numbers speak”, in an apparent reference to a past statement that South Africa was not technically in a recession.

Manuel made that statement at a stage when, according to statistics, South Africa was not a recession, but several economists believed otherwise.

“My pleading is that the editor of Business Day should let the numbers speak even as he writes his column late on a Sunday afternoon,” said Manuel. - Sapa

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