SPRINGBOK coach Peter de Villiers called on his team to change foreigners’ opinions that South Africans are a “bunch of hooligans” and that “there are elephants running in the streets”.
De Villiers was speaking after a two-day planning camp that ended on Monday aimed at focusing players on the World Cup.
“The five areas we wanted outcomes on were: the form of the players; their conditioning; what do we have to do to be successful; then we had a look at our coaching approach and then the areas of responsibilities for the players and management,” he said.
“But most of the time was spent on how we can win the World Cup and believe it, that you guys (the media), were actually part of and took up most of the discussions. We actually saw you as an opportunity to take on the world.
“What we do understand is that people don’t keep South Africans in high regard, that they look down on us, that we are a bunch of hooligans, that there are elephants running in the streets. You can see it when referees make decisions — it’s always a kind of biased thing, going that way. We actually think you guys can be an ally in sending out the right messages at the World Cup. It was very positive how the senior guys spoke about how we actually need to have a partnership with the media and that the public need to be a part of this whole thing.”
When asked to clarify his statement in Afrikaans about the supposed referee bias de Villiers admitted the team would portray a positive, sophisticated image over the coming months to try to overcome foreigners impressions of South Africans. “What I am saying is that referees are also people. Everybody outside South Africa think that there are elephants running around South Africa. They look down on us and we ourselves need to stand together to show people that we are actually more sophisticated than what they think.
“The more we knock ourselves, the more people will think that. We need to pull together to move forward.
I’m not saying that referees are biased against us. Maybe I used the wrong words. Sorry.”
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