The southern hemisphere rugby alliance called a misconduct hearing to investigate South Africa coach Peter de Villiers for suggesting that New Zealand was being favored by match officials before the 2011 World Cup.
South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby, or SANZAR, said it issued a “notice of alleged misconduct” against de Villiers following comments he made during a July 21 television interview. A hearing will be conducted “in the next week.”
“We have determined that Peter de Villiers’s comments may constitute a breach of the SANZAR code of conduct and warrant further consideration by a judicial officer,” Steve Tew, the group’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.
Following back-to-back losses to the All Blacks in the opening two games of this year’s Tri-Nations, de Villiers suggested the home team was being assisted by referees and linesmen to help swell interest for next year’s World Cup, which will be hosted by New Zealand. The Springboks were heavily penalized in the defeats and had players suspended.
“I’ve got my own observations about the last two Tests, and maybe I can’t say it in public, but we do have a World Cup in New Zealand next year and maybe it was the right thing for them to win the games so they can attract more people to the games next year,” he told Fox Sports “Rugby Club” program.
De Villiers questioned how South African players could be sin-binned for infringements at the breakdown in both games, yet All Blacks captain Richie McCaw could be repeatedly penalized and cautioned for similar offenses and stay on the field.
SA Rugby Response
SANZAR said it raised the issue with SA Rugby, which runs the national team, on July 22. Officials discussed the matter with de Villiers, 53, this week on his return to South Africa after the Springboks lost to Australia in Brisbane six days ago.
Having considered SA Rugby’s response, SANZAR said it decided a misconduct hearing was warranted.
The South African Rugby Union said in a statement that it wouldn’t comment on the misconduct allegation “until the judicial process has run its course.”
De Villiers, who was appointed as the first black coach of the Springboks in January, 2008, earlier yesterday met with senior rugby officials to discuss how the team could improve at home in the Tri-Nations following three straight losses on the road, the union said.
“We had a very productive meeting and there are areas where Peter will present us with his plans for the future,” James Stoffberg, chairman of the union’s technical committee, said in a statement. “He has our full support and we are confident that we can quickly be put back on track.”