Former Bok captain: We need to be positive

Jean de Villiers
Jean de Villiers

Cape Town - Be proactive, solution-driven and positive: that is former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers' message to the South African rugby community.  

De Villiers was in Cape Town on Wednesday night for the launch of this weekend's Cape Town 10s as well as the launch of the 'Remember 2007' campaign. 

That initiative will see a group of players who were a part of the Springboks' 2007 World Cup-winning side devote time throughout this year to raising funds for charity. 

It is 2007 captain John Smit's idea, and his team-mates from a decade ago are on board. 

"It's looking back at 2007 and what it did for the country, but also looking to the future and hopefully providing opportunities for kids that don't get the same opportunities that we got growing up," De Villiers told Sport24 on Wednesday.

"The idea is to raise some funds throughout the year, starting with this event and then hopefully doing some more throughout the year. At the end of the year we will be giving that to charity.

"It's not about complaining about what's going on, it's about actually doing something proactive. Hopefully we can make a difference. It was John Smit's idea and I think it's a brilliant idea."

That mindset, De Villiers says, can be applied to the current state of South African rugby. 

Under a new coach in Allister Coetzee and with the political pressure on SA Rugby heightened - the Boks must be made up of 50% players of colour by the 2019 World Cup - South Africa limped to just 4 wins from 12 Tests in 2016. 

Coetzee's future remains uncertain at this stage, but De Villiers has encouraged everyone involved with the game to role up their sleeves and play their part. 

"To create change you must want to change," he said.

"We all are emotionally attached to the Springboks and we all want to see them win, but we need to be part of that process of trying to be positive and trying to help change.

"That's everyone concerned ... from a governing body's point of view, a player's point of view, all the stakeholders. You must want to change and be a part of that change and not just be the negative guy saying 'this is not working'."

Supporters, De Villiers said, also have a massive part to play in this regard. 

"It's tough for supporters these days. Financially, it is difficult," he said.

"What you do feel from a playing perspective is when you get that support from the outside, that energy you get from is so positive.

"It actually reflects on the field, and sometimes that creates wins when you are meant to lose. All stakeholders can contribute."

SA Rugby are set to make an announcement on Coetzee in the coming days. 

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