Former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has launched a scathing attack on his former employers at SA Rugby, implying that they blacklisted him and tried to prevent him from getting future employment.
De Villiers was earlier this month confirmed as Zimbabwe’s new head coach but on Monday took the opportunity to hit out at the top brass of SA Rugby.
“When I was the first choice for the (Zimbabwe) job I was phoned by the Zimbabwe Rugby Union who told me that SA Rugby phoned them to say I was blacklisted in South Africa and they can’t appoint me,” De Villiers said on kykNET’s eNuus channel on Monday night.
“After I was appointed, USA Rugby phoned them and said they never knew I was available. So somewhere someone spread rumours that I was not available...”
De Villiers' immediate task will be to attempt to help Zimbabwe qualify for next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan, which, if successful, would be the country's first World Cup appearance since the 1991 tournament in England where they lost all three group matches to Scotland, Ireland and Japan.
De Villiers added that there was no comparison between the Springbok and Zimbabwe jobs: “The Zimbabwe job is bigger than the Springbok job, much bigger... because in South Africa 95% of the people believed that I would fail... but now there’s so much pressure on me... even the guy on the street selling newspapers stops me and says they’re going to watch rugby now. Suddenly the pressure to be successful is so much bigger.”
According to the KweseESPN website, De Villiers also claimed that SA Rugby stopped him from being appointed Boland head coach in 2016.
“When Boland wanted to make me coach, someone from SA Rugby offered them R2 million not to appoint me, and a union like that cannot afford to say no to that sort of money," De Villiers said.
"I am so glad to be the new Zimbabwe coach, it gave me comfort because I am not welcome in my own country, so I am leaving. The first thing I will do when I get to Zimbabwe is sing the national anthem, because they want me there. The Springboks don't want me."
De Villiers coached the Springboks between 2008 and 2011 and was the director of rugby at the University of the Western Cape between 2012 and 2015.
During his tenure as Springbok coach, De Villiers won five out of 11 Tests against the All Blacks - a better record than most Bok coaches in recent times.
Other notable achievements for De Villiers as Bok coach was a Tri-Nations win in 2009, as well as a series win over the British and Irish Lions that same year.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for SA Rugby said De Villiers’ accusations were untrue and wished him well in his new role.