Peter de Villiers calls it quits

by staff

After almost four years as South Africa head coach Peter de Villiers has confirmed that his team's 11-9 defeat by Australia in their Rugby World Cup 2011 quarter-final on Sunday will be his last match in charge.

The colourful de Villiers told a post-match press conference that he always wanted to do his best in the job and that is how he wants to be remembered.

"It was a brilliant journey, something that none of you guys (the media) can take away from me," he said. "There's a time to come and a time to go. So I think the journey for me is over."

For such a polarising figure his record as South Africa coach reads well. Since taking over on 1 January, 2008 he has been in charge for 48 matches, recording 30 wins and 18 losses, making him the fourth most successful coach in Springboks history by win percentage.

His biggest triumph was the 2-1 series victory over the touring British and Irish Lions team in 2009 and he also led the team to the Tri Nations title that year.

Outgoing South Africa captain John Smit said that despite his unique leadership style the team had an enormous amount of respect for de Villiers.

'A great man'

"As much as the pain flows through the heart right now, the other thing that was said in the changing room by many a guy was that we have had a great four years together and that had been pioneered by Peter," Smit said.

"Not the usual mould of coach that any of us have been used to, but one that we have thoroughly enjoyed over the four years.

"He's been a great man and he's helped us enjoy these four years and it's disappointing to end it like this."

South Africa's defeat by Australia is a difficult way for de Villiers to end his tenure. In typically colourful fashion, he described the feeling in the Springboks changing room as "three notches lower than a funeral".

But such disappointment will not linger too long for de Villiers, according to Smit.

"His saying from the day he started and, I suppose when he wakes up tomorrow, is that even the bad days are good," Smit said.