Australia 30-13 South Africa, Tri-Nations, Brisbane, July 24
SARU dismiss reports of rift
July 27, 2010

The South African Rugby Union have played downs reports of a rift within the squad after the embattled Springboks suffered a third loss in succession over the weekend.

Peter de Villiers' side have endured a disastrous start to their Tri-Nations campaign with Saturday's 30-13 defeat to Australia leaving them win-less after three games and bottom of the log without even a bonus point to show for their efforts. The defeat for the defending champions in Brisbane followed back-to-back losses to New Zealand on the opening two weekends of competition.

It has left plenty of questions for the coach to answer ahead of their next game on August 21, but for now there is mounting speculation of a camp in disarray, something team officials have denied.

"I've been with the Springboks for almost three weeks now and can categorically state there is no rift in the management team," Andy Marinos, the national teams manager said. "In my various discussions with Bok coach Peter de Villiers, his assistant coaches Dick Muir and Gary Gold, as well as senior team members John Smit and Victor Matfield, it's never once come up that there are problems in the camp.

"For three weeks in a row we have not played well and made it harder for ourselves by playing with only 14 players on the field at crucial time during the games, away from home."

De Villiers will also meet his employers later this week for a report back on the tour. SARU are reportedly satisfied with the some part of the team, but are becoming increasing irritated by unnecessary remarks being made by the coach to the media.

Last week they had to send out a statement in an attempt to defuse comments by the coach where he suggested referees had favoured the All Blacks in the first two matches for the benefit of next year's World Cup. De Villiers said he was misquoted, but the issue and a few others are now set to be spoken about face-to-face.

"We normally review performances after a leg like this, and we will begin this week," SARU president Oregan Hoskins told the Cape Argus. "We're concerned about the losses. We shouldn't change the personnel - in other words we shouldn't sack the coach."

Asked if his organisation had erred by appointing De Villiers to replace Jake White, who had just led the team to the 2007 World Cup crown, he added, "I'm not a coach. That's why I don't pick the team. I wouldn't say he's the best coach in the world, but I wouldn't say he's inferior to Jake White. I'd say they are on a par. My issue with the coach is his media comments."

In related news, White has hinted he is considering re-applying for his old job after Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand."Of course I'm interested in being involved and helping South African rugby," White told The Times. "It's been mentioned in the past but never seems to go beyond an informal discussion."


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