Springbok coach Peter de Villiers was at his most entertaining best on Wednesday, as he told journalists that South Africa have become the new world leaders in setting trends and that the Wallabies are just copying the Boks’ style.
In a series of comments that are sure to provoke the Wallabies, and has the potential to backfire on the Bok coach when the two countries meet in a Tri-Nations crunch match in Perth on Saturday, De Villiers also accused the Wallabies and All Blacks of kicking more than the Boks.
Addressing the media in Perth on Wednesday, the Bok mentor hit back at criticism of his team’s tactics – after last week’s suggestions by both Wallaby coach Robbie Deans and Kiwi rival Graham Henry, who labelled the Boks boring for employing an effective kicking game.
De Villiers dismissed suggestions his team’s kicking-based style of play was strangling attractive and entertaining rugby, leading to a dearth of tries.
“Entertainment is one of the boxes we want to tick off, but it doesn’t mean it is the first one,” he said. “We didn’t invent this game and we didn’t write the laws.
“The law changes called for us to adapt and our adaptation, at this moment, is spot on and I am proud of how the team has adapted.
“It doesn’t mean that we can’t carry the ball, that we can’t drive, that we don’t have a good line-out game or scrumming game.
“We have worked hard at every small thing in the game to make it work.
“We are winning and our obligation is firstly to all South Africans, and then to the rest of the world.”
De Villiers also took a swipe at his rivals, when he suggested the Boks are the ‘leaders’ and the Wallabies the ‘followers’.
“We said when we took this job that South African sport should be the leaders and not the followers anymore,” he said.
“It speaks volumes that we can now dictate the terms of how rugby should be played in the world.”
In assessing New Zealand’s 19-18 win over the Wallabies last week, De Villiers started by praising both sides, before taking another swipe at them.
“There was more kicking in that game than there were in our games against any one of them,” he said.
“We are now determining how they are playing against each other too.”
De Villiers’ comments come five days after All Blacks coach Graham Henry criticised current Test rugby for incessant kicking affecting the sport’s product.
With only one try scored – by New Zealand midway through the second half – and 10 penalty goals kicked, it did appear both had taken a leaf out of the Springboks’ book.
De Villiers said there were few injury concerns in the Springboks camp, although he added that he would err on the side of caution with utility forward Danie Rossouw, who is being troubled by a slight hamstring strain.
He said flank Juan Smith would be available for selection for Saturday’s game.