Former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers says SA Rugby tried to prevent his appointment as Zimbabwe head coach by “blacklisting” him.
Speaking at a press conference in Johannesburg on Monday, De Villiers also said that his successors, former Bok coaches Heyneke Meyer and Allister Coetzee, should have consulted him so that he could share “how badly he was treated” during his four-year tenure from 2008 to 2011.
Coetzee was fired on 2 February after less than two years in the job. It has been speculated that SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus will take charge of the Boks for the June series at home against England.
De Villiers’ contract was not renewed after the Boks were knocked out at the quarter-final stage of the 2011 World Cup in Australia.
But the coach did make his mark in charge of the team, as his Springboks remain the last team to record a series win over the British and Irish Lions (2009), while he also won the Tri-Nations in the same year by beating the All Blacks three times. He left the Bok job with a win record of more than 60%.
De Villiers had previously said that members of SA Rugby paid Boland to remove his name from consideration for the coaching job in 2016.
“I got a call from the Zimbabwe Rugby Union to say there is a problem, SA Rugby say I am blacklisted and they cannot appoint me. 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.”
“My biggest disappointment was that Allister Coetzee and Heyneke Meyer never made the time to talk to me so I could share my experiences of how badly I was treated with them. Rassie Erasmus came to the World Cup for four weeks in 2011 and Heyneke chose to speak to him about the four years I was in charge.”
An SA Rugby spokesperson, meanwhile, says the allegations are untrue and wished De Villiers well in his new job.
De Villiers’ Zimbabwe will find themselves in the same World Cup group as the Springboks — and the All Blacks for that matter — if they win the Africa Gold Cup, which also serves as qualifiers for the showpiece event in Japan in 2019. Zimbabwe kick off their campaign against Morocco on 16 June.