De Villiers safe for now, but faces review

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers’s job is safe for now although the South African Rugby Union (Saru) will review his side’s poor run of form and some of his controversial comments later this month.

Defending champions South Africa lost their fifth match out of six in this year’s Tri Nations on Saturday, a 41-39 defeat by Australia, fuelling media speculation that De Villiers would be sacked.

“All rugby followers are extremely disappointed with results in the Tri-Nations, as are the Springbok team and management, of course,” Saru president Oregan Hoskins said in a statement on Sunday. “We take the situation very seriously but there is a process in place and we will follow that through.”

He added that the Springboks’ poor Tri-Nations performance would be subject to an annual review, “as per normal”, with De Villiers later this month.

De Villiers, whose three-year tenure has featured several fiery tirades, has found his comments under scrutiny again this week after saying the team fully supported Bees Roux, the Blue Bulls prop accused last week of murdering a policeman.

Hoskins said his organisation would hold “formal discussions” with De Villiers about “some of his reported comments” and added that Saru had written to the policeman’s family.

De Villiers was last month cleared of misconduct by southern hemisphere governing body Sanzar following television comments suggesting New Zealand were being given preferential treatment by referees because they were hosing next year’s World Cup.

He was also widely criticised last year when he defended flanker Schalk Burger, who was banned for eye-gouging during the British and Irish Lions tour.—Reuters

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