De Villiers: SA needs strength vs strength tournament

Peter de Villiers says it is vital that South Africa’s teams are involved in a strength-versus-strength competition before the British & Irish Lions arrive to face the Springboks.

The current EP Elephants coach was Springbok head coach when the Lions previously toured South Africa in 2009.  The Springboks claimed a 2-1 series win under De Villiers, after winning the two opening Tests against the Lions.

It was announced on Wednesday that South Africa’s ‘Big Four’ teams: the Sharks, Lions, Bulls and Stormers, would be facing each other in a southern Rainbow Cup SA tournament. This comes after South African teams were not granted the permission to travel to the UK in time to allow the PRO14 Rainbow Cup to be played as originally planned.

Speaking to Netwerk24, De Villiers said that a competition that will see the four teams play weekly derbies is a good thing, as it will allow the country’s best players to be put through their paces before the upcoming Lions series.

‘If I am looking at South Africa’s interests first, and not just EP, then I would say that it is important that our country’s strongest teams play against each other before the Lions arrive,’ De Villiers said.

‘The rest of the teams can face each other in a different tournament.’

De Villiers added that a potential problem with a competition like the Preparation Series, which saw the four teams play against the Pumas, Griquas and EP, is that they name second-string lineups for the games against the ‘smaller’ unions.

‘Whenever they play against us, they select their second-strongest teams. While that helps to prolong the careers of the top players, it isn’t ideal preparation for the Lions.’

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Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack