All of us had a good time when Peter “Snorre” de Villiers coached the Springbok team between 2008 and 2011.
As a rugby writer, he gave you pure gold to work with.
Unfortunately, his laugh-a-minute quotes often came at the expense of the man himself.
But he once said: “I won’t change my style.
“If I change my style I will change Peter de Villiers and then I would have to tell God that he made a mistake when he made me.”
And South African rugby and the rugby public in general can be thankful for this.
De Villiers was again in the news this week, being quoted by Sport24 as telling RSG that he actually took the media for a ride with his clever quotes. He said: "Back then I said: ‘We’ll pull a rat out of the hat’. Now if they just gave it some thought, then they would have realised I was a teacher for 20 years, so I taught those to children, I know that stuff.
“With ‘rats’ I referred to them, the rugby writers. If they then think I’m stupid then so be it. I played them and I had them just where I wanted them. I used my poetic freedom to say things the way I wanted to.”
It sounds like more pure gold to me.
One thing is for certain, De Villiers is a man of his word - he won’t change (as evident from this quote).
But what can change are those around him.
Often ridiculed for not speaking in his mother tongue, Afrikaans, De Villiers was actually ahead of the game in his time.
He is a man for the people and if it meant possibly embarrassing himself by speaking in his second language so that most people could understand him, he was willing to do so.
The man was a visionary and was, at times, unnecessarily crucified.
He once said: “What I have learnt in South Africa is the following; if you take your car to a garage to be repaired and the owner is black and he doesn’t do a good job, you will never take it back there again.
“But if the owner is white and the garage makes a mistake, people say, never mind, he made a mistake and will take it back again.
“That is how some people live their lives in this country. I respect people and their opinions but I don’t have to listen to them.”
That was De Villiers’ way of getting people to understand the situation instead of just saying “there is subtle racism in SA”.
At the time he was laughed at. But hindsight is an exact science and I believe South African rugby would have been better off really listening to what De Villiers wanted to say, instead of laughing at how he tried to say it.
Having said that, the way he said things is and was funny - but that’s part of his greatness.
De Villiers is without a job at the moment after being axed as Zimbabwe coach.
And surely there is a franchise in SA that would benefit from having him back at the helm.
The man has all the experience in the world and is one of the most successful Springbok coaches of all time.
This time around we all know what to expect from De Villiers and are ready for him to take centre stage once again.
South Africa needs a man like him in the business of rugby.
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