Eugene Eloff: Turning down Peter de Villiers had nothing to do with colour

  • Eugene 'Loffie' Eloff has denied that he did not want to be one of Peter de Villiers' Springbok assistant coaches over a presumption that the latter's tenure would be a failure.
  • This comes after a video surfaced which claims Eloff and Gert Smal turned down offers to be De Villiers' assistants in 2008.
  • Smal denied he was ever approached, while Eloff says the fact that De Villiers is coloured had nothing to do with his decision.

Eugene 'Loffie' Eloff has rubbished a claim that he did not want to be one of Peter de Villiers' assistant coaches at the Springboks over a presumption that the latter's tenure would be a failure.

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De Villiers made headlines last week when a video was released in which he spoke candidly about his time as national coach between 2008 and 2011.

In the video it is claimed that Eloff and Gert Smal refused to be De Villiers' assistants.

"Some of the [union] presidents believed I wouldn't last longer than three months, so they went to some of the people that I asked to be my assistant coaches and told them 'don't get involved, he's not going to last. We will consider you when he's gone,'" De Villiers said in the video.

However Eloff, a former Junior Springboks and Lions coach, told Netwerk24 the claims are nonsense.

"In the video they're making it sound like we didn't want to work alongside a coloured coach. Here are the facts: When he (De Villiers) called me and offered me the job, it was just after I'd been appointed head coach of the Lions in Super Rugby.

"My words to him were as follows: 'Peter, it's an absolute honour that you're asking me, but I won't accept it because I've just been contracted by the Lions and want to see my contract through'. And that was it. I also told him our rugby philosophy differed, but that wasn't the main reason I said no.

"It had absolutely nothing to do with whether he would be successful or not, or because he is coloured. He also later wrote in his book that I didn't want to work under a coloured man and it's absolutely not the truth. It was simply because of the Lions."

Smal, who was a Springbok assistant under De Villiers' predecessor Jake White, told the Afrikaans publication he was never approached to be De Villiers' assistant.

Dick Muir and Gary Gold were eventually named as assistant coaches.

During De Villiers' tenure as Springbok coach, the team won the Tri-Nations in 2009, as well as a series win over the British and Irish Lions that same year.

He also won five out of 11 Tests against the All Blacks - a better record than most Bok coaches in recent times.

READ | Peter de Villiers recalls calling rugby writers 'rats' and 'deep agendas' in SA rugby

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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