Peter de Villiers believes the Lions’ media and supporters should acknowledge the magnitude of South Africa’s achievement.
There have been plenty of gripes in the wake of Saturday’s result at Loftus Versfeld. The travelling contingent has preferred to focus on the foul play that saw Schalk Burger and Bakkies Botha banned, and even players like Mike Phillips and Jamie Heaslip have bitterly bemoaned the Boks’ physical approach.
There were a few ironic congratulations offered to De Villiers when he faced the media on Monday, and the Bok coach accepted them, saying he has no time for a negative line that attempts to detract from the Boks’ achievement.
‘For 29 years we waited for this victory,’ he told keo.co.za. ‘We go into the third Test having already sealed the series and I know the whole of South Africa will rejoice. For the next 12 years we can be positive.
‘I would love it if all those Lions supporters would honour this achievement. It’s the toughest series I’ve seen in a long time, but I think they should take it on the chin and say well done, like we did in 1997.’
Lions coach Ian McGeechan has not congratulated the Boks publicly or in private. De Villiers doesn’t view this as a problem.
‘Nobody has congratulated us yet, but maybe they will after the third Test. No one can take this victory away from us. Even last night’s judicial hearing [where Burger and Botha were suspended] couldn’t take that away.
‘When Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk won the Nobel Peace Prize, whatever wrong they did in their life didn’t matter. It’s the same with us, they can never take away our prize.’
Apart from accusations of off-the-ball incidents, the majority of the foreign press believe the Boks were lucky to win both Tests. McGeechan also said his team were unlucky, as have many of the players.
De Villiers, in his unique and verbose manner, said he has different ideas when it comes to the definition of lucky.
‘I always describe lucky as when you go into a bar and someone tries to hit you and they miss. That’s lucky. If after 80 minutes of Test rugby you are ahead on the scoreboard, then that is character,’ he said.
The Bok coach said his team will remain hungry in their quest to affect a whitewash.
‘We will look at this Test like any other. They are still a good team with the best players in Europe, but then again, we are proud people too. We have an obligation to our country to go out there and win,’ De Villiers said.
‘It would be great to make it 3-0, but we have no control over winning and losing, only how we control the game. We have to prepare well.’
By Jon Cardinelli, in Johannesburg