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Peter de Villiers is Politically Incorrect at the Five Flies Launch of His Memoir

Gavin Rich and Peter de Villiers

The launch of South African rugby coaching legend’s autobiography, Politically Incorrect, at the Five Flies restaurant was a fabulous event, with many rugby personalities in attendance.

MD of Random House, Steve Connolly, welcomed the crowd and spoke of the great sense of indignation he felt on behalf of the former Springbok coach as he read the book. “We spend our working lives trying to get to the top of our career. Imagine what it’s like as you reach the pinnacle of your working life, you find you’re constantly frustrated and undermined by the very people who put you there in the first place! I started to appreciate what he achieved despite the obstacles put in his way.” Connolly said it was, perhaps, the most honest book he had ever read.

Peter de VilliersPolitically IncorrectGavin Rich, the esteemed sports writer who co-authored the book, said he had to do a lot of soul searching before taking on the project and noted how, as an independent rugby journalist and the coach’s “greatest critic”, his reservations about de Villiers put him in an unwelcome pigeonhole.

Rich spoke of the relationship between himself and the de Villiers as cordial but essentially honest. He recalled de Villiers saying to him, “I’m not trying to buy you or get anything from you. You tell the story. You’re completely free to write anything. I quite like the idea that you carry on being my critic!”

He also recalled their meeting soon after the fateful Rugby World Cup quarterfinal. De Villiers, having observed the author’s angry look, asked of the reason behind it. “I am angry. And I’m angry with you,” replied Rich. He said the discussion that ensued about the team selection gave him a terrific insight into a man who had kept the media on their toes with frequently controversial statements.

De Villiers, in his inimitable style, cited a French journalist who said, “You made it beg very quickly…” He said he owed it to the people of the world, especially the black people, to tell the story that have been here forever. If we didn’t allow people to step into our space, this country would still have been ours. We were so genuine that we allowed people to have it for a while, but they couldn’t keep it. Now somebody else is keeping it for a while, and then, when we’re ready, we’ll take it back!”

De Villiers also commented on the initial reactions to the book, which currently holds second position on the Exclusive Books bestseller list. He also reflected on rugby writers who “wanted to tell the truth, but didn’t want to live truthfully.” Taking a dip at his many critics, he said, “Most of them never made their schools’ first team. They want to live their life through my achievements. To them it was heartbreaking seeing this little guy, whose colour is not right, whose head is not right, being in a position where they’ll never be. That kind of jealousy and envy I experienced.” Concluding the launch, de Villiers noted that, over time, he’d learned that it wasn’t what other people said about him but rather how he reacted to what people said that made the course stable.

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Liesl Jobson tweeted from the launch using #livebooks:

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