Former Springboks coach Peter de Villiers has been sacked by rugby minnows Zimbabwe due to unauthorised leave from work, according to documents from the Zimbabwe Rugby Union.
De Villiers was fired last month, but has indicated that he will challenge his employer’s decision and appeal his dismissal in a labour court.
The ZRU documents detail how de Villiers, who coached the Springboks from between 2008 and 2011, failed to return to work from a vacation last year.
As a result, he was suspended and then later fired following a disciplinary hearing.
De Villiers was hired by the ZRU on a two-year contract in February 2018 with the intention of getting the tier three nation back into the World Cup for the first time since 1991 via the annual African Gold Cup competition.
The winner of last year’s edition of the tournament would qualify directly into Pool B of the World Cup, while the runner-up would qualify for the repechage round, with the winner of that also gaining entry into Pool B alongside tier one nations New Zealand, South Africa and Italy.
Not only did Zimbabwe fail to finish in the top two of the Gold Cup – Namibia won the tournament, while Kenya finished second but failed to progress from the repechage round – but they finished fifth of six teams, with their only win coming in their final match against Uganda.
A last-placed finish would have seen them relegated from Africa’s premier continental tournament, but a 23-all draw salvaged against sixth-placed Morocco prevented saved De Villiers’ and Zimbabwe’s blushes.
The 61-year-old’s reign in charge of Zimbabwe was also troublesome off-field, as he fell out and then fired assistant coach and former Zimbabwe captain Brendan Dawson, accusing him of undermining his authority.
During his time with the Springboks, De Villiers was more successful, but experienced similar off-field issues.
After becoming the first-ever non-white coach of South Africa, he led them to a series win over the British and Irish Lions, a Tri-Nations title in 2009, which included a rare hat-trick of victories over the All Blacks, and the number one spot on the world rankings.
However, he attracted criticism for a number of provocative comments, which included accusing the All Blacks of cheating, and defending one of his players from eye-gouging during the Lions tour by saying rugby was “a contact sport”.
After a tense 11-9 defeat to the Wallabies in the quarter-finals of the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, De Villiers was not offered a new contract by the South African Rugby Union.
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