Saru rumoured to grill Bok coach

2010-07-27 00:00

IAN McIntosh has dismissed Cape Town reports that he will join a SA Rugby Union (Saru) review panel which will grill Springbok coach Peter de Villiers this week following the three Test losses to New Zealand and Australia.

The Springboks conceded 93 points and 10 tries in the three Tests and reports yesterday claimed that De Villiers would this week appear in front of a review panel. It was stated that SA Rugby’s new vice-president James Stofberg would head the panel which would include McIntosh, a current national selector and former Bok coach.

“I don’t know anything about that,” McIntosh told The Witness yesterday. “I do serve on the committee with James [Stofberg] which carries out regular assessments after all Springbok tours, but I certainly haven’t heard anything about a meeting this week. I would only expect us to have our routine meeting with Peter at some time over the next few weeks.”

Saru president Regan Hoskins also said a review is normal following a tour and told reporters that De Villiers’ job is safe.

“We’re concerned about the losses but we shouldn’t change the personnel and sack the coach.”

Reports yesterday also highlighted a split in De Villiers’ management staff, citing coaching differences between De Villiers’ assistants Gary Gold and Dick Muir.

The different coaching philosophies of Gold, who favours a structured approach to the game, and Muir, an advocate of a more spontaneous, ambitious style, emerged last year and was considered one of the strengths of the team. It was argued that the two provided a healthy balance in the squad, but now it is claimed that tactical differences are dividing the team with head coach Peter de Villiers falling in between.

Saru manager Andy Marinos, who accompanied the Springboks to New Zealand and Australia, said yesterday that rumours of a division are unfounded and unwarranted.

“I’ve been with the Springboks for almost three weeks now and can categorically state there is no rift in the management team,” said Marinos.

“In my various discussions with Bok coach Peter de Villiers, his assistant coaches Dick Muir and Gary Gold, as well as senior team members John Smit and Victor Matfield, it’s never once come up that there are problems in the camp.

“For three weeks in a row we have not played well andwe made it harder for ourselves by playing with only 14 players on the field at crucial time during the games, away from home.”

But certainly the Springboks lack direction. Their tour selection, like their game plan, has been confused with a number of players, including Jean de Villiers and Ryan Kankowski, fielded out of position.

The tour failures and his senior players’ poor form have left De Villiers out on a limb and some of his public statements have compounded his problems.

All Black coach Graham Henry twisted the knife yesterday when he said that “I can’t really take anything De Villiers says seriously”.

Unfortunately, the South African rugby public will agree and De Villiers can no longer take refuge behind his team’s successes.

And one of the first to try and take advantage of his vulnerability was the opportunistic former Bok coach Jake White, who used the weekend media to apply for De Villiers’ job.

White was the coach when the Boks were beaten 49-0 in Brisbane in 2006 and is familiar with the problems which De Villiers now faces. But, instead of offering to help the current coach, White has said he wants to return to his old job and take over from De Villiers. White told reporters that if he was not appointed, he would sell his coaching skills to an overseas team.

Hoskins would not be drawn on De Villiers’ ability as a coach.

“My issue with the coach are his media comments — I think that detracts from his ability. That’s where I’d like to concentrate.”

• The Wallabies are appealing flyhalf Quade Cooper’s two-week suspension for a spear tackle on Morne Steyn at the weekend, and the SA Rugby Union will be watching the outcome with interest.

Bok centre Jaque Fourie received a four-week ban for a less dangerous tackle and, if Cooper’s sentence is reduced, enabling him to play against the All Blacks over the next fortnight, the Boks will see that as further confirmation of the inconsistencies in the disciplinary process.

The appeal is expected to be heard tomorrow.

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