Eddie Jones in de Villiers warning

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The Independent Online

One of the key men in Jake White’s World Cup winning management team has warned Springbok coach Peter de Villiers “Learn a lot quicker than you are at the moment. Or you will have a short term job.”

Jake White always regarded the recruitment of Australian Eddie Jones as a key plank in his World Cup plans. Jones, with typical Australian fortitude, spelled out the reasons for South Africa’s stumblings under de Villiers and what has gone wrong.

Speaking from London where he is now Director of Rugby at English Premiership club Saracens, Jones warned “The Springboks will get worse if they continue in this way”.

Jones put de Villiers’ oft-stated playing ambitions into realistic context. “Mate, no-one in world rugby is playing the way their coach is talking about, not successfully anyway. Everyone has discipline, policies and a procedure in their game. The way he is talking is nonsense. You can’t just play an expansive, wide game.

“This is still a very good squad of players. Most are even at their peak or approaching it. So there is plenty of talent but what they need is the organisation and discipline. Therefore, Peter will need to modify his approach. He has got two good assistants so they should sit down and look at the reasons they are doing so poorly. If they do that, they will come up with a modified approach.

“If de Villiers keeps on going down this track he will be unsuccessful. He has got to learn if he wants to coach at international level you have to have some sort of discipline involved. Then get the players to play for that. The hard thing for Peter is that he has never coached professionally and this is one of the most difficult teams to coach.”

Jones watched the Springboks’ latest defeat on television in London. He insisted that the new experimental laws, the ELVs, have not changed the game as much as some people suggest. “What they do demand is that you must be fitter and play better from un-structured ball.

“But you don’t need to go to a harum-scarum type of game. New Zealand showed that, they almost played traditional rugby in Auckland. And the Crusaders play exactly the same way. They play chiefly down in the opposition half, they don’t run much from their own 22. They have a real go in opposition territory. It is not a complicated approach.

“But South Africa have gone to the other extreme, they’re attacking off everything. And they’re going lateral, not through defences. You have to go through sides like Australia and New Zealand first. South Africa’s problem is if you have played one game then try to go to the other extreme, that’s a danger. Knowing the South African players, I would say they would prefer much more discipline. There’s no structure in their game at present and they have lost all their discipline.”

But there could be light at the end of this particular tunnel, for the Springboks’ beleaguered coach and his players. He believes they could still beat Australia in Johannesburg this Saturday.

“They could turn it around, even in 7 days.20It will be tough but they are a resilient bunch of players, some of the toughest footballers I have ever been involved with.

“But he has to change his philosophy because it doesn t fit these players. It’s not credible; you have got to give players a framework to work under. Peter’s big test now is to learn. If he learns, he can turn it around. But if he continues to be stubborn, he won’t last long because his tactics won’t work.”

What will happen? Sense will prevail, Jones believes.