By Lee Stace
MEMO TO Peter de Villiers: stop blaming Bryce Lawrence for your Rugby World Cup failure last year and inability to find a job.
The reasons why you are unemployed at the moment are because you are not all that as a coach, as your record with the Springboks would suggest, and are too controversial.
De Villiers was recently interviewed by the Times Live website and preceded to take another shot at Lawrence, who refereed South Africa during its 11-9 RWC quarter-final loss to Australia in Wellington.
‘P-Divvy’ did not hold back. He described Lawrence as “cocky, arrogant and sly” and refused to accept his apology. He almost implied that had it not been for the Kiwi whistleblower he might still have his job as Springboks coach.
“Bryce Lawrence makes, on average, six mistakes a game, which is a good average for a referee. In that game he made 48 mistakes, six of which were match-costing,” he said.
Granted, Lawrence did have a bad day at the office. He made a couple of questionable decisions that favoured the Wallabies and disadvantaged the Boks. His mistakes did have an influence on the outcome of that match.
But only to a certain degree. He cannot be blamed entirely for the defending champion’s inability to close that game out. Every statistic was heavily in the Boks’ favour and they had ample opportunities to win that game 10 times over. They played dumb rugby, while the Wallabies took their chances and tackled themselves to a standstill.
If De Villiers is looking for someone to blame for his failings as Boks coach, he should start with the man in the mirror.
His record with the Jappies was not flash: played 48, won 30, lost 18. That equates to a 62 percent winning record during his 2008-11 tenure, for all you stats junkies out there.
While he won a British Lions series and Tri Nations crown in 2009, South Africa propped up the ladder in the latter competition no less than three times during the De Villiers era. In fact, his winning record was just 40 percent in the Tri Nations.
Off the field, De Villiers was also prone to constant foot-in-mouth moments. He was a public relations disaster, and his rhetoric ramblings, while reflecting badly upon him and his employers, always made for a great quote or two on a slow news day.
These factors, not Lawrence, are the reasons why the South African Rugby Union treated him like he had the bubonic plague when he went looking for work recently.
With the series level, expect both teams to put it all on the line as they seek to win the deciding test in Sydney on Saturday night.