Latin: /'vɒks pɒpjʉliː/ VOICE OF THE PEOPLE

It's Winter and we're Migrating

Exciting web developments are allowing us to migrate to an independent page of the school website within the month.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Has P Diddy run out steam?" by Ricky Klopper

Peter de Villiers has, since his controversiall appointment as Springbok coach, never been far away from the headlines. His often perplexing way of communicating his views onrugby and life in general, has always kept the media at his fingers. Diddy supplies the press with a constant flow of "Devillierisms" which cause uproar in the press, like his famous "garage owner comparison" or his views on Schalk Burger's eye gouging. The Springboks have relinquished their Tri Nations title already and the country has almost entirely forgotten last year's results. So, the question is, should Peter de Villiers go?

The answer, in my opinion, is no. Peter de Villiers was, and remains a good "coach". I am hesitant to call him a "coach" because, is that really what he, or any other international team's "coach" is? They are in essence, the player's managers as most of the so-called "coaching" is done by backline, forward, defensive and kicking coaches. The primary role of the head coach is to select, and then get the best out of, his players. The head coach is also concerned with the essential tactics and style of a team. When questioning de Villiers' position, one should assess him on his performance in these areas, which contrary to popular belief, has been admirable.

Taking over as coach of the world champions is not easy, especially when the media and public immediately label you as a "quota" selection because of your skin colour. Corne Krige, the former Springbok captain, predicted "seven lean years" after de Villiers's appointment as coach and many other rugby "experts" questioned his ability. Peter de Villiers was unfortunately on the back foot from the start. De Villiers's selection may have been questionable, but he came into the job with a greater pedigree than his predecessor, Jake White. De Villiers had led the Under 21 Springboks to world titles and the Emerging Springboks to the Nations Cup as well as coaching various teams at Currie Cup level. While Jake White joined with a short spell as coach of the SA under 21 team being his only experience as head coach of a first-class team.

De Villiers immediately sparked controversey when he announced that he would take the team to "new heights" by adding a new attacking dimension to their game. Experts insisted that De Villiers should stay with Jake White's formula of a defence-orientated game and these opinions seemed vindicated when the Springboks' Tri Nations hopes disappeared with two games remaining. The last game of the Tri Nations, a 53 - 8 thrashing of Australia, gave the country a glimpse of de Villiers's attacking game and subsequent victories in Europe showed his ability to adopt different styles for the team when necessary.

2009 saw a change in approach from the Springboks due to law changes that had been introduced half way through 2008, which made them rely more on kicking and positional play. this approach was highly successful, with the Springboks winning the Tri Nations and the Lions Series. the Springboks had a 100 % record against New Zealand for only the second time ever, a feat that Jake white never achieved. During this time, although some recognition was given to de Villiers, there were still murmurs that the Springboks were overly reliant on Jake White's players and that de Villiers had nothing to do with their success. John Smit, and other senior Springboks, denied this and attributed the team's success to the team's morale which de Villiers was instrumental in creating.

Peter de Villiers's greatest strength is his relationship with his players. His greatest weakness, in my opinion, is his relationship with those outside the team, particularly the press. De villiers's first language is Afrikaans, and it is often clear that he finds it difficult to accurately express himself to the English press. This often leads to misinterpretation and has helped create his image as a "clown". He is a very honest speaker and can surely, even by his greatest detractors, not be accused of not admitting his own mistakes.

No one can decide whether Peter de Villiers is "the right man for the job", but I feel that he has and still is being unfairly judged by South Africans and our other Southern Hemisphere counterparts, Australia and New Zealand.

Peter de Villiers will remain in the spotlight for as long as he remains Springbok coach and I doubt the controversies will ever stop. There is no denying the man's faults, but I feel his ability to get the best out of his players gives him an edge that few other coaches have.

Only the future will tell whether I am correct.

1 comment:

  1. I do not think it possible to become the coach of a widely renownned team such as the springboks without being criticised for something or another buy the media.On the whole these critisicms (in my opinion), as long as they are not so excessive as to completely destroy the target individual's self esteem, are a good way to get people to better themselves. I think that you are right in saying he has been unfairly judged, but so have most people who have been publically humiliated by the media. I think he should stay for another season, its evident from our tri-nations campaign tht the structure is there, as well as the talent, maybe he just needs a bit more time to get over this mid-career turbulence and hit his stride (again).