By News24, IOL and ENCA
Former South Africa rugby coach Peter de Villiers has been appointed to lead Zimbabwe in their bid to reach the Rugby World Cup in Japan next year.
De Villiers was unveiled by the Zimbabwe Rugby Union on Wednesday in Harare and he told reporters it was the “greatest day of my life”.
Zimbabwe will play a round-robin set of qualifiers for the World Cup with five other African nations, including favourites Namibia, Kenya, Morocco, Tunisia and Uganda.
The top team will be assured of a place in Japan, where they will face New Zealand, South Africa and Italy in Pool B, while the second-placed side will enter the Repechage stage that involves further play-off games against teams from Asia, South and North America and Europe.
De Villiers, known for his out-spoken views on the game, coached the Springboks between 2007 and 2011, winning the Tri-Nations in 2009 and a series against the British & Irish Lions that same year.
He was axed after their controversial 11-9 loss to Australia in the quarter-finals of the World Cup seven years ago.
Former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has been unveiled as the new head coach of the Zimbabwe national team.
De Villiers will be assisted by Brendon Dawson.
Immediate task will be to qualify for next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan
De Villiers was previously involved with the Zimbabwe’s Under-20 team, has signed a two-year contract.
De Villiers’ immediate task will be to attempt to help Zimbabwe to qualify for next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan, which, if successful, would be the country’s first World Cup appearance since the 1991 tournament in England where they lost all three group matches to Scotland, Ireland and Japan.
Zimbabwe are likely to face stiff competition from Namibia in their hopes of qualifying. Should they do so however, they face a daunting prospect at the tournament itself, with the ‘Africa 1’ team – whoever it may be – drawn in the same pool at defending champions, the All Blacks, the Springboks and Italy.
They have only featured at the showpiece event in the first two editions in 1987 and 1991, and it is hoped that with De Villiers’ pedigree, many quality players who are in other countries – such as South Africa – will make themselves available to play in the World Cup qualifiers.
De Villiers coached the Springboks between 2008 and 2011 and was the director of rugby at the University of the Western Cape between 2012 and 2015.
During his tenure as Springbok coach, De Villiers won five out of 11 Tests against the All Blacks – a better record than most Bok coaches in recent times.
Other notable achievements for De Villiers as Bok coach was a Tri-Nations win in 2009, as well as a series win over the British and Irish Lions that same year.
Comment on this report: Call/text/whatsapp: (+27) 834767918