De Villiers booed by own rugby fans - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

De Villiers booed by own rugby fans

By David Beniuk 24/08/2008 07:33:15 PM Comments (0)

Springboks coach Peter de Villiers was booed loudly by the Durban crowd as South African rugby fans tried to come to terms with their side's slide since winning last year's Rugby World Cup.

The Springboks have won just one of their five Tri-Nations matches and Saturday's 27-15 loss to Australia meant they had lost consecutive home games for the first time in the series.

Their passionate fans are at a loss as to how this could happen less than 12 months after lifting the Webb Ellis cup in France and de Villiers, the first black man to coach the Springboks, has come under enormous pressure.

"They do have the right to be unhappy," de Villiers said of the boos which resonated around ABSA Stadium as he was interviewed after the match.

"South Africans are a proud nation. They want to be winners, they want to back a winning side.

"One big message that we want to get out there is that we will never go out and lose a game on purpose."

The local media were scathing, with the back page of the Sunday Tribune screaming: "Give us our money back!"

"How could the champions of he world in Paris 10 months ago be allowed to disintegrate into this shambles?" asked Mike Greenaway.

"Today the Springboks remain World Cup holders, but world champions? Give us a break."

Inside the paper, Peter Bills raised the more sinister spectre of racism.

"De Villiers looked shaken and the message it sent around this country to see a black coach booed and jeered by a predominantly white audience was shocking," he wrote.

De Villiers has tried to introduce a more expansive playing style to the traditionally conservative Boks which he claims is necessary under rugby's experimental laws.

But many South Africans are wondering why the Springboks need a new style when the old one secured a World Cup.

"I would ask that the public still give us some time," de Villiers said.

"The laws have changed look at how we were caught fast asleep in the first half of the Super 14 by not changing quick enough to the laws.

"I believe that we are on the right track and the players do believe it.

"It's just that they have to get used to it and we will get used to it."

South African journalists were keen to ask skipper Victor Matfield, who was also booed, if the players were behind their new coach's new game plan.

"Yes, we believe in it and I think we worked hard this whole week on exactly what we want to do on the field," the lineout ace said.

"It's just about execution. The chances are there but we're making too many mistakes."

Matfield said the booing was "understandable".

"We're the Springboks, we're the world champs and we lost two games in a row.

"I think if you go to the change room and you look at the players they'd be feeling worse than the crowd out there.

"It's our jobs, it's our work, it's our passion, it's our lives and it's unacceptable for us to play like that."

SARU president Regan Hoskins said he would back de Villiers but added he could not pre-empt a mandatory evaluation of the coach following the Tri-Nations series.

"We understand that the patience of our supporters is being taxed," Hoskins told the Tribune.

"We are going through a process with our new coaching team. The buck stops with me."

South Africa could be without prop CJ van der Linde next weekend after he was cited for an apparent headbutt on Australian halfback Sam Cordingley.

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