De Villiers named as first black coach of South Africa

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The Independent Online

South Africa have appointed their first black coach, naming Peter de Villiers as the man to succeed Jake White. De Villiers steps up to the senior squad having enjoyed success in charge of the Emerging Springboks and the South Africa Under-21s.

The 50-year-old has got the job ahead of the favourite, Heyneke Meyer, who won the Super 14 in charge of the Bulls. The other names on the short-list were Allister Coetzee, White's assistant, and Chester Williams, winger in the 1995 World Cup-winning South Africa side.

The appointment highlights the race issue at the heart of South African rugby. The pressure for more black players to be fast-tracked into the Springbok team has been immense despite the success in France four months ago.

White had several run-ins with the governing body, and the inclusion of only two non-whites, Bryan Habana and J P Pietersen, in his starting line-up for the World Cup final drew derision from some quarters. And the SARU president Oregan Hoskins said the appointment is as much about his ability to encourage transformation of the squad as his prowess as a tactician and leader.

"I want to be honest with South Africa and say that the appointment was not entirely made for rugby reasons," Hoskins said. "We as an organisation have made the appointment and taken into account the issue of transformation very, very seriously when we made it. I don't think that tarnishes Peter – I'm just being honest with our country."

De Villiers said his appointment represents the realisation of a long-held ambition. He said: "You dream of being a Springbok player and if you can't be a player, you dream of being a Springbok coach, and that has become a reality for me now."

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