How De Villiers will make Eastern Province mighty again
REACTION: The Southern Kings are dead. Long live the Mighty Elephants.
This was the gist of the message from Eastern Province Rugby Union President Andre Rademan, after the announcement that former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers is the new coaching director of the EP Elephants.
De Villiers, with a storied and colourful record as Bok coach, beat off the challenges of seasoned rivals like Ricardo Loubsher, Deon Kayser, Jonathan Mokuena and Kevin Musikanth.
However, both De Villiers and Rademan warned against expecting instant glory.
“We will have to build EP Rugby back up from the ground,” Rademan told @rugby365com in an interview, after Friday’s big announcement.
He made it clear that the well-documented and polemical events of the last few years meant they had to resign the Southern Kings to the graveyard.
Gone are the Eastern Cape’s most contentious brands – the Southern Spears and Southern Kings – that caused so much drama and heartache for the past 15 years and saw the Kings liquidated, not once, but twice.
While there is a “long road” ahead, Rademan was confident about the future and feel it is the right call.
“We must build this union back up,” he told @rugby365com, adding: “Our goal is to qualify to play in the Currie Cup.”
That journey starts with the SA Cup competition in March – a qualifying tournament, after which the top eight teams will move on to the Currie Cup (Premier Division) and the remaining six drop down to the First Division.
What a day! I am so humbled and proud to be given this honour by @ep_elephants
I can not wait to get started and together, we can build a team that the Eastern Province deserves.ADVERTISEMENT
The hard work starts now and I am so ready to get going! pic.twitter.com/Yf5TdKTLEY
— Peter de Villiers (@CoachPdV) December 4, 2020
“It is going to be a challenge but, with the input of all stakeholders, we will be able to reach our goal,” De Villiers said.
“My plan for the union is that I need a lot of support from everyone to build bridges and to get the right personnel together.
“Everyone must understand what the collective goal is.
“I will work hard to make sure we achieve our goals.”
De Villiers, who spoke of being ‘honoured and privileged’ to be once again part of rugby at a first-class level, said EP needs to be reestablished as the “global brand” it once was.
“There will be a hell of a lot of challenges,” he said, adding that the immediate need is to establish “great structures”.
“Our goals are very important and simple.
“EP want to be part of the big names in rugby.
“When they call out those big names we want to be there.
“Our cause will be to build on the simple things.
“We are going to take from the past, which was brilliant, and try to build the future on that.
“It is a great privilege for me to be back in this great valley and we want to make our metro one of the greatest through rugby.”
The selection panel that picked De Villiers from a five-man shortlist is comprised Maasdorp Cannon (chairman), Zola Yeye, Qondakele Sompondo, Jaco Kirsten and Yoliswa Lumka.
?? BREAKING EXCLUSIVE ??
It’s OFFICIAL…..He’s back!! Congratulations to fmr Springbok Coach, Peter de Villiers who’s just been unveiled as the new man in charge of @ep_elephants on a one year contract with an option to renew for 2yrs.#mightyelephants pic.twitter.com/zrDPLS2STd
— robertmarawa (@robertmarawa) December 4, 2020
De Villiers coached the Springboks between 2008 and 2011.
Since he was removed from his position as Springbok coach – after losing to Australia in the 2011 World Cup quarterfinal – De Villiers struggled to nail down a high-profile position.
His appointments included stints with Zimbabwe and the University of the Western Cape.
One of the most colourful people ever to coach an international team, De Villiers’ appointment as Springbok coach – when he replaced World Cup-winning Bok mentor Jake White in 2008 – was as controversial as his departure four years later.
His resume in the Green and Gold includes a Tri-Nations win, a whitewash of the All Blacks (in 2009) and a series win over the British and Irish Lions in 2009.
He also beat New Zealand in Dunedin (2008) and Hamilton (2009).
However, he is still better known for his eccentric pre- and post-match remarks and often controversial statement.
Although not everybody’s cup of tea, he has by some distance been the most entertaining Bok coach of all time.