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Pieter de Villiers: 'No place to hide' for Boks

INTERVIEW: Pieter De Villiers, Scotland scrum coach, has warned his compatriots South Africa that there would be ‘no place to hide’ at Stade de Marseille on Sunday.

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Scotland and defending champions South Africa go head-to-head in the opening round in a Pool B match that will set the tone for their respective campaigns.

Former France prop Pieter de Villiers joined the Scotland coaching team ahead of the 2020 Six Nations, as a scrum guru – having previously held the same role at the national team of his native South Africa under former coach Heyneke Meyer.

He has been credited with bringing both detail and passion, which has seen Scotland’s stocks rise and their world ranking improve to No.5.

The 51-year-old De Villiers admitted that it will not be an easy challenge to face his compatriots.

“They are world champions, but it’s a fantastic opportunity for us to play against them,” he said about Sunday’s outing in the capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.

“They have recently shown why they are champions,” he said of the Springboks’ 35-7 demolition of the All Blacks in a warm-up match at Twickenham last month.

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“They did well against the All Blacks and excelled in their strengths which is the set-piece and defence.

“We know what will be coming our way.

“Each team has got different super-strengths.

“It’s about the team that is going to do the best in bringing those to the table and making sure we impose how we want to play.

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“That’s really important.”

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Like most coaches, he believes that the game starts up front – with the set pieces being the key.

“You can never hide from the set piece,” the Malmesbury-born former French prop said.

“It is about taking them on.

“It’s always about that one-on-one physicality.

“There is no hiding in the set piece.”

Asked what it means, as a coach, to face his home nation, De Villiers said it’s always the same.

“They are all very special moments.

“For the players who have worked so hard for a long time, getting to participate in this is really special.

“As a coach, you don’t have that extra special feeling of being on the field but the pleasure of working with players and helping them and the team grow is a huge satisfaction.”

De Villiers played in two World Cups for France (1999 and 2007) earning 69 caps in an eight-year Test career, which also brought four Six Nations titles.

He moved into coaching after his retirement through injury in 2008 and joined South Africa as a scrum coach in 2012, before switching to Stade Francais in 2018.

De Villiers played for the Top 14 side 150 times in a 14-year spell and won the French title on five occasions with the club between 1998 and 2007.

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