De Villiers set to step down as Boks coach
October 9, 2011
Peter de Villiers cuts a dejected figure as he leaves the pitch following South Africa's defeat to Australia © Getty Images
Peter de Villiers looks to have called time on his four-year reign as South Africa coach after watching his side get knocked out of the World Cup at the hands of Australia.
De Villiers, who took over from Jake White following South Africa's World Cup triumph in 2007, could not take the reigning champions beyond the quarter-final stage of this year's tournament as Australia grinded out a narrow 11-9 victory in Wellington.
"It was a brilliant journey, something that none of you guys (the media) can't take away from me," said de Villiers. "To work with people like this, people that are passionate about their country, people who always put their bodies on the line and try to bring hope to poor people back home who will never have the privilege that most of you guys have.
"It was really incredible for me to work with them."
De Villiers was the first non-white Springboks coach and was a controversial figure throughout his tenure perpetuated with some bizarre comments to the media. "There is a time to come and a time to go and the journey I think for me is over," he said.
"I enjoyed it. I'm privileged to be in a position where I could make a contribution to my county and I hope it was a positive one.
"South African rugby will move forward and will be much better next year. I wanted to be the best me that I could be. The way I am is the way I want people to remember me."
Springboks captain John Smit - who will now join Saracens - paid tribute to the coach saying: "As much as the pain flows through the heart right now because of the loss, I think the other thing that was said in the change room by many of the guys is that we have had a really good four years together, and that has been pioneered by Peter."
"He's not the mould of coach that we are used to, but one that we have thoroughly enjoyed over the four years. His saying, from the day he started, and I suppose when he wakes up tomorrow, was that even the bad days are good, and that is what he has done.
"He has made us enjoy every moment and he has given us leeway and space and then tightened up when we took advantage of that. He's been a great man and he has helped us enjoy these last four years. It's disappointing for it to end like this."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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