OUTGOING world champions South Africa will today begin the search for a new coach after Peter de Villiers stepped down following the sterling defensive effort that propelled Australia into a semi-final showdown against New Zealand.
The Springboks enjoyed 76 per cent of the territory and had the lion’s share of possession, but a series of handling errors, coupled with the heroic work of the inspirational David Pocock around the breakdown, meant James Horwill’s first-half try ultimately proved the difference.
De Villiers (right), who took over from World Cup winner Jake White in 2007, said: “It has been a brilliant journey for me. It was really incredible to work with the Springboks, but there is a time to come and a time to go. The journey for me is over. I enjoyed it and I hope my contribution was a positive one.”
Defeat also brought the curtain down on the careers of South Africa’s most capped players, John Smit and Victor Matfield, who have made 111 and 110 appearances respectively.
“It is a sad occasion for me, but it would be wrong to judge my seven years as captain on this one day,” said Smit, who will now join up with Saracens. “Victor’s contribution has been huge and in my view, he is the greatest Springbok ever.”
Victorious coach Robbie Deans, meanwhile, added: “What you saw was the most experienced World Cup side in the world really turn the screws on the youngest side.
“As James [Horwill] said, the boys came of age in terms of the way they accepted that challenge and stood up to it.”