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Former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but he is in his own words, ‘true to himself’.


Without doubt De Villiers has been the most entertaining of all the mentors to take charge of South Africa’s national team.

For four years he entertained the world’s media with his unique sayings and weird parables and true to form he produced a few brand new pearlers at the Cape Town launch of his book: ‘POLITIOCALLY INCORRECTY, the autobiography’.

Describing himself as “the Mandela of rugby”, De Villiers set out to explain to the audience that he was indeed a unifying force in the country and not the divisive figure so many of his critics felt he was.

Using terms like ‘I am my own man’ and ‘I stay true to myself’, he was at his brilliant best and certainly not holding back.

As he said in his book: “Quisque sibi verus [from Hamlet by William Shakespeare thine own self be true].”

As forthright as he is in the publication, described as the ‘most honest rugby book ever’, De Villiers took pot shots at the media and had some words of ‘wisdom’ for his successor, Heyneke Meyer.

He said that initially he did not want to write a book.

“But after that statement that my appointment ‘did not take into account rugby reasons only’ [uttered by South African Rugby Union President Oregan Hoskins], I [later] decided I owe it to the people of the world, especially the black people … I owe it to them, to tell the story,” De Villiers said.

In the book he makes it very clear that he took exception to being labelled a ‘transformation’ coach by his employers, SARU,  and he had some equally strong words for the members of the media with whom he had a love-hate relationship throughout his tenure.

Turning to his co-author, Gavin Rich, he said: “The book tells what a great school [Northlands Boys High] you went to, and what a great college [Rhodes University] you went to, but it never tell me where you played your rugby.

“That was the problem with most of the rugby writers in this country, [they] never played good rugby … most of them never even played for their school’s first team. They wanted to have high achievements and they felt heartbroken to see this little guy held in such high [esteem]… that is the kind of jealousy and envy I experienced.”

De Villiers said the true measure of a man’s character is how you react to what people say about him.

And then he produced one of his best parables yet, likening himself to the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, in describing how he felt he managed to unite all the people behind the Springboks.

“I managed to unite more people in this country,” De Villiers told his audience, adding: “I don’t want to bring Mandela in here, but I think I was the Mandela of rugby … [I] brought hope to people, to motivate [them] and [encourage them] to learn.”

Despite being unable to find employment in rugby in his own country, De Villiers said he will not be heading abroad for employment.

He said he wants “share” his knowledge with South African coaches.

He recently offered his services to SARU, who ignored him, and although the minister of sport suggested he would set up some kind of position where De Villiers can be involved at grassroots level, nothing has come of his so far either.

De Villiers made reference to Stormers defence coach, Jacques Nienaber, whom he described as one of the “most astute rugby brains in the country” and added that he “can’t understand why you [Nienaber] is not in the Springbok set-up”.

He said it would be a great loss to South Africa should Nienaber be snapped up by a team from abroad, as was the case when two other former Bok coaches, Nick Mallett and Jake White, accepted offers from other countries when they were unwanted at home.

Asked if he had a message for his successor, Heyneke Meyer, he had a dig at his former bosses at SARU: “Whatever he does wrong, you can’t blame him, blame the people who put him there … they are the people responsible. We must support him.”

His advice to Meyer: “Some of us get old and never grow up. By growing up, I don’t mean becoming an adult, growing up means knowing who you are. You should be true to yourself. Heyneke must be true to himself. I hope he knows what he wants and I hope he knows how he can get there.”

Then, being true to himself and being as politically incorrect as his book’s title suggest, De Villiers showed again why he is such a unique character.

“I don’t expect white people to understand black people and I don’t expect black people to understand white people, I do expect you to understand yourself. When you understand yourself, you know where you stand in life…”

35 Responses to Snor – I am the Mandela of Rugby

  • 1

    The little man is a hoot and a likable chap, pity he such a fool and a tool too.

  • 2

    @ grootblousmile:

    Voel dit nie beter nou dat ons weer ‘n proper coach het nie?

    Maar jy is reg, Snor is ‘n baie likable chap. Hy moet net nie die Bokke of Bulle coach nie.

  • 3

    2 @ Boerewors:
    Man, dis soos dag en nag verskil tussen die 2 coaches…. kan regtig nie wag vir Heyneke om vir ons te wys wat steek regtig in die Bokke nie.

    Ons moet net geduldig wees, dit gaan nie van meets af aan smooth sailing wees nie… dis ‘n proses wat homself behoorlik moet deurwerk!

  • 4

    @ grootblousmile: Ja, ek wens hy kon ten minste 2 weke kry om voor te bery. Ons moet net nie teen die Engelse verloor nie – hulle praat nou nog in Engeland oor die 1966 Sokker World Cup!

    Ek is ook bly ander Pieter De Villiers is die skrum coach. En dat Rassie die tegniese werk doen.

  • 5

    “You should be true to yourself. Heyneke must be true to himself. I hope he knows what he wants and I hope he knows how he can get there.”
    think it was rugby365 themselves who, after the selection of the “32′, ran an article somewhere in the lines of “heyneke already showing he will be his own man” wherein they say that early indications were that heyneke will not be swayed by public opinion.
    whether he, when the pressure starts mounting, will still not be swayed by “public opinion”, remains to be seen)
    point i’m trying to make is
    i cant see anything wrong with the advice given there!

  • 6

    I see in Wordsworth, they’ve knocked a healthy whack off the price of the book already. I wonder how well the book is selling.

  • 7

    for clarity, lets just say that if this was an essay,
    the writer of this article wouldve gotten 0 for his effort!!
    this is poor journalism, this guy is trying to build an article around one phrase/ one line of thought
    fails miserably.
    this in fact is a good example of the shit i had to shift through in the last few years in order to make up my own mind!!

  • 8

    and before someone jump on my back and try to hump me … this is exactly the same kind of courtesy i’m willing to extend to heyneke meyer and whoever follows after him!!!

  • 9

    8 @ ashley:
    We expect nothing else.

    Any Bok coach must know the public expects nothing but the best, and it’s no different for Heyneke or anybody else.

  • 10

    gbs @ 9
    thing is … the media sometimes have their own agendas … it does seem strange that so many different writers from different publications sometimes seems to be following each other like sheep, but it happens. remember jw? remember the bad publicity he received for a while? remember keocaine? remember how he suddenly made a “gat-omkeer”? why? because he got rights (or was promised it anyway) of writing a book (for jw) somewhere in future!!
    no boet, not everything written is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”. you have to make your mind up about things, no matter how many others believe otherwise.

  • 11

    10 @ ashley:
    It’s called being an INDEPENDANT THINKER…

    Which, for me is an absolute MUST!

    I consider myself one, and probably the main reason I do not ascribe to one Christian church or one Christian church denomination… I’m definately not going to follow the interpretations of some Dominee or Pastor and accept HIS interpretation of the Bible. I want to interpret and analize myself.

    Same applies to the rest of my life… I make choices, based on MY interpretations and my experiences.

    That said, I will listen when someone speaks sense… and use that as part of MY experiences and interpretations.

  • 12

    I really feel that Supersport should employ him as an analyst. He would bring some light relief to the commentary. He could become a legend.

  • 13

    lions @ 12
    you cant use someone as an analyst who have problems expressing himself

  • 14

    gbs @ 11
    good to hear that.
    to be honest, i’ve become a bit worried about you, especially the (frustrated?) way in which you defended so many of heyneke’s decisions so early in his springbok coaching career. now before you try and hump me (again, 😀 )
    you wouldve noticed that i, for one, was open to suggestions like the return of matfield, the use of fourie du preez etc, so this is nothing to do with provincial bias
    i’m just wondering whether you’ll stay so open-minded when the emotions start taking over!! Wink

  • 15

    Ash, I was saying tongue in cheek 🙂

  • 16

    lions @ 15
    i know
    😀 i was just stopping anyone elaborating on it, hehehe

  • 17

    shouldve been … anyone ELSE

  • 18

    14 @ ashley:
    If Heyneke farks around, he’ll hear from me too, believe me.

    … but so far he’s done well…

    He’s garnered SARU’s full support & buy-in
    He’s got the Franchises working with him
    He’s chosen a squad of 32 containing maybe 3 odd choices…. and I’ll grant him his way, he might know something we don’t
    He’s chosen a Bokke 22 for this weekend which I am quite chuffed about
    The Bokke and aspiring Bokke players seem hyped up and excited and willing to give their all
    No bad media relations have resulted, but a lot of media expectations and speculation

    Now, not 1 minute of on-field play has been seen… and this weekend we’ll see what happens… and ease into the general Heyneke era…

    So, my expectations are high, tempered by the limited time he has had to gel the side…

  • 19

    gbs @ 18
    i am as exited as you are
    my general feeling is that theres a few guys in the media with knives already sharpened … theres just this little murmur in the media by some scribes who, at this moment, is writing articles using the feeling of the general public as an excuse to air some of their views … that murmur will become louder if heyneke’s bloubokkies (hehehe) should fall onto hard times!!
    hey, why all this negativity?
    its time to get behind the bokke
    goooooooooooo bokke!!
    bleksem helle!! moer helle!!

  • 20

    19 @ ashley:
    I believe your attitude to be right, and mine right too… we seem positive.

    We are clearly behind our team and as a result behind our coach.

    …. but yip, some scribes would like nothing more than for Heyneke to fail or be mediocre, in fact some here on this website are also looking for a shambock to hit Meyer with… specifically one Snor diciple, who walks around like a bear with a sore tooth…

    Gooooooo Bokkkeeeeee

    Moer hulleeeeeeeeeeee!

  • 21

    #gbs @ 18
    agree with you
    thus far he has done well
    all indications are that he is putting the right structures into place to benefit sarugby for years to come.
    my concern in #19
    is that he will not be afforded the time to do so by certain parts of the media.

  • 22

    gbs @ 20
    the snor disciple … you’re not talking about me, are you? Whistling

  • 23

    21 @ ashley:
    Let’s see…. this Saturday and the 2 Tests hereafter is important.

    It is important to get going on a winning foot… then tweak more and more as time goes on…

  • 24

    22 @ ashley:
    No, not you, you’ve been very level-headed about the whole thing.

  • 25

    gbs @ 24
    are you sure, hehehehe

    on a serious note … yes, we need to win these three tests … would be far to early to expect seeing the influence of heyneke on the boks yet,
    but any little indication of which way he’s heading will be welcomed 😉
    (otherwise what are we going to discuss in the week to come? 😯 )

  • 26

    hey btw
    what happened to old TIGHTHEAD?
    do you think he’ll come back now and chat rugby again?
    he’s been proven right on some of the things he said beforehand, you know?
    Ssshh just dont tell him i said so!!! THANK-YOU

  • 27

    This test will see Bulls rugby, but the next two we will see little tweaks. And in the Castle Championship, a few more but we will not see him straying too far from his blueprint. I believe HM’s tenure will be more of an evelutionary reign than a revolutionary one. The changes will come in small increments, and when we compare his last game (may that be lifting the WC in 4 years time)whenever that may be to his first, we will be amazed at how the Bokke will be playing. And I believe we will have leapfrogged AB’s as world leaders in rugby.

  • 28

    lions @ 27
    may one say AMEN on this site … cause that what i feel like doing!!

  • 29

    I am sure GBS wont mind.

  • 30

    lions @ 29
    anyway, thanks for the chat. see u tomorrow!! cheers!!

  • 31

    28 @ ashley:
    Of course you may… we only discourage religious discussion, because that undoubtedly just becomes a hot potato discussion… and some toes are bound to treaded on…

  • 32

    A lot was insinuated at me Ashley, i am the “snor disciple’ the “bear with the sore tooth” mentioned here, but i will use my mentor Peter de Villiers advice and “You should be true to yourself” so its all right.

    My opinion on the comments here is, take all that is said here and compare what is said on various other chat forums(supersport, keo, news24, iol…) there Heynecke is more under serious scrutiny and he is certainly not regarded very highly by the pro WP scribes and supporters. But still he is having a far fairer start by all than PdeV had.

    On this site(not sure if RT existed when he was appointed) but the commenter’s here like Me(yes i was a staunch HM man) and GBS and the others i alway cry about was all pro HM men, when Peter got the job and Oregan immediately undermined the new Springbok coach Peter was in trouble, he would have to turn mountains around to gain respect from us again.

    HM does not have this undermined start. So lets see if he can establish a dominating game plan and give us hope of catching up with the All black dominance over us.

    Winning more than 66% of his game would not make him great, all 3 off our last coaches was around there. We need a game plan that we us against the AB,s that will make them the little mouse in the corner. So i am waiting in anticipation for that, nothing else. Like i said winning 2 out of 3 was not making me happy before why would it now. The task to have the highest win % is not tough, that can easily be manipulated by playing extra tests against minor Test nations. The real thing is to beat the AB,s , Australia, England and France regularly, no in fact more than 66% of the time. Winning streaks of 15+ will be most impressive.

  • 33

    super @ 32
    yes, i think THAT INTRODUCTION was one of the worst moments in sarugby for me … now take into account all the other blunders sarugby made in the past; the in-fighting, guys there with own agendas etc etc etc, and that introduction still stand out as their darkest moment.
    strange thing though was the reaction oregan’s comments was met with …. lets put it like this …. had oregan died that same night, he may by now may have had a shrine erected in his honour with many white (oooo, i’m gonna get in trouble …. eish) supporters undertaking regular pilgrimages to this shrine to go and pray there!!

    what should the reaction actually have been?
    horror!! nothing but horror!!
    1. because of WHAT oregan said,
    2. where he said it
    3. WHY he said it!!
    now many will say that WHAT oregan said was nothing but the truth, WHERE he therefore say it doesnt matter and WHY he said it was because “he couldnt live with what sarugby have decided”!!
    beg to differ on all counts:
    1. he should never have said what he said because the decision was made, however flawed in the eyes of many, but it was made!!! ANY employee in any organisation wouldve been booted out for what he (oregan) did.
    2. again, the decision was made, and the platform he’s chosen to air his frustrations was definately not the right one
    3. why he said it? how many still remember heyneke leaving the bulls in 2007/8? why? because he was ASSURED of getting the job, isnt it? then why ask for other candidates to apply when their applications will be nothing more than a farce?
    oregan HAD to say what he said TO SAVE FACE.
    but who is it that he need to save face with IF IT IS NOT HIS EMPLOYERS? the supporters? dont make me laugh!!
    oregan, in my view is nothing more than a puppet, question just is: “who’s puppet is he?”

  • 34

    ashley wrote:

    oregan, in my view is nothing more than a puppet, question just is: “who’s puppet is he?”

    Just came back from my shop so all i say is “mostert na die maal” but yes Ashley i agree with what you said, and yes it was “laag” by Oregan. Glad you stand at least up for the PRINCIPLE when you find support. Dont fear to stand up friend, of all the people here on RT i would put you 1st on my “want to meet list” 2nd it will be JFK and off course my favorite “coachcomedian”

  • 35

    Heyneke Meyer Q&A session transcript #BokTeam #Boks4life
    June 7th, 2012 | by @bobbynic23 | Posted in Hot Topics |

    Heyneke Meyer has just selected his 1st ever Bok Team, and this is the transcript of the Q & A session he had after the announcement.

    First, it was the team manager (Ian Schwartz) to take us through the team. Awkward at best, but in time I’m sure he’ll become more familiar with the camera’s. You’ve no doubt seen the team by now. If not – go here

    The first 3 questions posed to Heyneke were about Bismarck (and the hooker spot), Zane Kirchner vs Pat Lambie, and the Lineouts. You can see his answers at this bottom of this post.

    NOTE: I have tried to write the transcript exactly as Heyneke says it.

    Question 4: I couldn’t really hear the journalist properly (after 5 replays on the good old PVR), but it had something to do with lack of experience in the pack, and balancing it out…

    Heyneke: “No, I think you know, obviously um, with Flip and Juandre they’ve played together and thats a great combination. And Eben in a lessor sense, Andries, is also a good combination, so uh, I think it would have probably been unfair. I went for form, and uh, it probably would have been easier to pair the 2 Bulls players together, but I believe Eben is bring something different to the party, he’s very good contesting in the lineout, and uh, I really believe he can uh, I wanna say the next Bakkies Botha, I think he can surpass that, but uh, I did think about experience there but I’ve got a lot of confidence in Eben and I think he can be a world class lock. He’s physical, he’s big, and he doesn’t shy away from contact, so uh, I think he was the best 4 lock in the Super Rugby, and I think it was just fair to go with him there.”

    Random Pause.

    He continues: “Just by saying that you know, I don’t believe in reserves, I believe in impact players, and I’ve you know, if you look at the 4 guys on the bench, they brilliant players in their own right, and uh, Flips also a great player if he comes on from the bench he’ll definitely make a huge difference”

    Question 5: Again, I couldn’t hear a word of the question. Nevertheless, the answer makes sense.

    Heyneke: “Ja, I’ve been coaching probably odd for 20 years, and uhm, this is probably the best week, I just talking about pure attitude of players I’ve ever seen and I’m not just saying this because its the Springboks, uh, you know, this morning I had a meeting with the medical staff, and when they handed me the guys who couldn’t train, you know, it was a clean piece of paper. Every single player strained every single um, you know, every single game. In my wildest dreams after the derbies, I thought that won’t be possible. So the players attitudes been brilliant, um you know, they know its a new era, they know good enough is not good enough – only the best is good enough and um, I’ve been very blessed with the players, aah, we’re not 100% there yet, but we still got a training session this afternoon, and a captains run, and aah, we’ve really trained hard. Lots of video sessions, lot of one-on-one’s, and aah, you know a lot of getting the game plans sorted, but I’m very happy where we are and I’m just very proud of the players for their attitude and the way they’ve adapted to the strengths, and I can really see they wanna play for their country, and I can’t ask anything more of the players. They’ve been really brilliant”

    Question 6: Coach, are you nervous going into your first game as Springbok coach?

    Heyneke: “Obviously there’s butterflies, but um, like I said to the players as well, as long as those butterflies fly (*at this point he gets a grin on his face) in the same direction I’m alright. But It’s more excitement than nervous, obviously its a huge responsibility, um you know, represent your country and you really wanna start well, and you also know you playing against a quality side, but um, obviously a little bit nervous, but more excited than nervous, and you know, I can’t wait to go, and I know I’ve got to sleep the next few days. But its a huge huge excitement among the players, and we just wanna go out there and prove the country that aah, whatever it takes, we don’t wanna make excuses, we wanna go out there and win for our country.”

    Question 7: At this point, I’m getting slightly annoyed that I cannot hear any of the questions from the journalists over the noise of the camera’s flashing constantly. How many bloody pictures need to be taken of our coach sitting in the same position? Jeeeez! That being said – the question must have been about the bench…

    Heyneke: ”Yes um, Ryan, I’ve thought um… (*awkward pause while Heyneke rekindles his thoughts)… you know I look at every situation, its not reserves, its impact guys, and if you look at Coenie and Adriaan, probably 2 of the best ball players in the country, and in the world for that matter, aah you know, both great great guys. Unbelievable guys that you can bring from the bench – they can turn the game on its head, aah, same with Flip – a true and true athlete, and then Keegan is a guy that has proved himself. He can come on at openside and 8, and he always makes a difference, and even at the backs you know, if you look at the 3 backs thats chosen – its guys that can change the game, so aah, they’ll definitely be used, and ahh, specifically upfront its guys that will, I believe they are truly game breakers in their own right, every single player, and its great to have a bench like that. Big, fast, strong guys with a lot of skill and I’m very happy with the bench, you know, specifically.”

    Question 8: This question from a UK journalist… *still annoyed 🙂 Heyneke smashes a massive “sluk” of Energade. Perfect timing for some sponsorship loving!

    Heyneke: “Ja, I’ll be honest you know, and I’m not just saying it for gamesmanship. I truly believe England has a very very healthy rugby culture, um, I was surprised when I started there that um, you know, the guys are really physical, there was always a perception that probably not a tough, aah you know, I was surprised with probably few of the toughest guys I’ve ever coached was in Leinster, each game was a battle, and especially upfront. Also a lot of big skillful backs, so um, I think England is doing a lot of things right. If you look at their Junior structures when I was there you know starting to win, and win great games with their u20 tournament, so um, I know what to expect. You know, they obviously put a lot of emphasis on scrummaging, aah, same as South Africa, and that will be a tough battle. But I think they’ve move a helluva way forward, um, very tough forwards, lot of great backs, lot of skill there, so aah, I think there’s a lot of similarities in the game plans, and aah, I’ve got a lot of respect for England. I think the great thing I realised there as well, was that the people of Leinster was just brilliant, and just such great rugby supporters, and the way they treated me, so, great rugby culture, and I know its going to be a tough tough series, but really looking forward and its great to do battle with a great side.”

    Question 9: Yay!!! “How many times has your match day 22 changed since you were appointed”

    Heyneke: “I must say quite a few times. Aah, like I’ve said previously as well, I thought I would go wif experienced side blending in the youngsters, but I think its work out for the best, so um, I’m very excited about the youngsters and the energy they bring to the team, and what you lose in experience, you gain in desire and hunger to play for their country. You know like I said, everyone training every session so even all the players is on their feet and on the tip of their toes because the youngsters bring that energy. So aah, its changed a lot of time especially just when I was appointed, but during the competition, aah, during the Super Rugby, start to gain confidence in the players. I must say there’s always a few unlucky players, but what was great about those players I spoke to a few of them, or most of them, and aah, they all just say they wanna work harder and that’s just the attitude I want. I don’t want guys with excuses and bad feelings there, We still gonna need a bigger squad and we gonna need the rest of South African players as well, and aah, a lot of those players have a great attitude and they wanna be here and that’s what I want from those players. I’m always looking at players when they down and out, and you know, I wanna see the mental toughness of them working back. So its changed a lot and I must say last 3 weeks I was quite confident of this team, and I believe this is the best team”

    I’ll continue the rest in a new post. This one’s getting a bit long…


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