• Eloff denies De Villiers’ claims

    Former Lions coach Eugene Eloff has refuted the suggestion from Peter de Villiers that he was influenced by others to turn down an opportunity to serve as his Springbok assistant.

    In a video released last week, De Villiers questioned the reason Eloff turned down the opportunity to be his assistant at the start of his tenure as Bok coach.

    ‘Some of the [union] presidents believed I wouldn’t last longer than three months, so they went to some of the people that I asked to be my assistant coaches and told them, “Don’t get involved, he’s not going to last. We will consider you when he’s gone”,’ De Villiers said in the video.

    However, Eloff told Netwerk24 the only reason he opted against the offer was due to his new role at the Lions at the time.

    ‘In the video they’re making it sound like we didn’t want to work alongside a coloured coach. Here are the facts: When he [De Villiers] called me and offered me the job, it was just after I’d been appointed head coach of the Lions in Super Rugby.

    ‘My words to him were as follows: “Peter, it’s an absolute honour that you’re asking me, but I won’t accept it because I’ve just been contracted by the Lions and want to see my contract through.” And that was it. I also told him our rugby philosophy differed, but that wasn’t the main reason I said no.

    ‘It had absolutely nothing to do with whether he would be successful or not, or because he is coloured. He also later wrote in his book that I didn’t want to work under a coloured man and it’s absolutely not the truth. It was simply because of the Lions.’

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    Craig Lewis