Peter de Villiers is taking the lion's share of the blame for the Springboks woeful away leg in this season's Tri-Nations. Critics and the rugby public are calling for his head, but has he really done any worse than his predecessors?
Three losses from three in defence of a Tri-Nations series has caused alarm amongst the South African rugby hierarchy, and rightly so.
After being kept quiet by a near-faultless Tri-Nations display in 2009, the legion of 'Div-haters' are currently out in full force after the shambolic displays in Auckland, Wellington and Brisbane over the past three weekends.
Critics and joe-blog, alike, are clamouring for the return of World Cup hero Jake White to save them from embarrassment at next year's showpiece in New Zealand. Jake, of course, would have never have been at the helm of a side in such dire straits in the year leading up to the World Cup... or would he?
Well, in 2006, White's Boks got smashed 0-49 by the Wallabies in Brisbane, lost 17-35 to the All Blacks in Wellington and were pippped 18-20 by Australia in Sydney the following Saturday. (That after losing to France at Newlands in June.)
That horrific away leg was followed up by a 26-45 mauling by New Zealand at 'Fortress Loftus' (making it five defeats in a row), before a last-minute Andre Pretorius penalty goal earned the Boks a 21-20 win over the All Blacks in Rustenburg.
What would have happened if Pretorius had missed that wobbly kick? We will never know, of course, but White narrowly escaped the axe then (and later that year after successive losses in Dublin and London in November), and the rest, as they say, is history.
Another thing that history tells us is that De Villiers, despite the recent Australasian debacle, still has a better record than White away from home.
The World Cup champions won just nine of White's 24 Tests away from South Africa (a 39.1% win ratio), whilst 'P Divvy' has a record of eight and eight (from 16 starts) for a 50% win ratio away from home. Both coaches' home records are in the early 80s, percentage wise, so the man recently labeled 'a clown' is holding his own there too.
In fact, if we look further back down the line of South African coaches in the professional era, only Nick Mallett (11 from 18 - 61.1%) and Andre Markgraff (5 from 7 - 71.4%) have a substantially superior record to De Villiers away from home.
Harry Viljoen won five, lost four and drew one (from his Tests away from home), but that is somewhat skewed by wins in Italy, Argentina and the United States of America.
Rudolf Straueli and Carel du Plessis, meanwhile, never won a game in an opponents' country (i.e. not at a neutral venue - like, at times, during the World Cups of 1999, 2003 and 2007).
SARU's bosses have maintained that they will back De Villiers, and Hoskins and co. will no doubt be hoping to have gained some perspective after the three matches in the Tri-Nations home leg... maybe it is best for the South African public to do the same?
So, again I ask... Is Div, based on his record, really that bad a coach?
In summary - the Bok coaches since 1996 (overall records):
(Under played, won, drawn and lost)
Andre Markgraaff (1996): 13, 8, 0, 5 - 61.5% win rate
Carel du Plessis (1997): 8, 3, 0, 5 - 37.5%
Nick Mallett (1997-2000): 38, 21, 0, 11 - 71.1%
Harry Viljoen (2000-2001): 15, 8, 1, 6 - 53.3%
Rudolf Straeuli (2002-2003): 23, 12, 0, 11 - 52.2%
Jake White (2004-2007): 54, 36, 1, 17 - 66.7%
Peter de Villiers (2008-present): 32, 21, 0, 11 - 65.6%
In summary - the Bok coaches since 1996 (away from home - excluding neutral ground):
(Under played, won, drawn and lost)
Markgraaff: 7, 5, 0, 2 - 71.4% win rate
Du Plessis: 2, 0, 0, 2 - 0%
Mallett: 18, 11, 0, 7 - 61.1%
Viljoen: 10, 5, 1, 4 - 50%
Straeuli: 7, 0, 0, 7 - 0%
White: 23, 9, 0, 14 - 39.1%
De Villiers: 16, 8, 0, 8 - 50%
What do you think? Is Divvy being harshly treated by the public and media alike?! Leave your views below. (And, please, keep your views about rugby only.)