Rugby's Greatest Rivalry Will See Peter de Villiers Struggling to Survive

Sanjay DevaCorrespondent IJuly 22, 2009

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 30:  South Africa coach Peter de Villiers laughs during South Africa training at Fourways school on June 30, 2009 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Rugby's greatest rivals, the Springboks and the All Blacks are set for a titanic showdown in Bloemfontein.

The Tri-nations moves from Eden Park, to the City of Roses, Bloemfontein, as the Springboks look to finally bloom under Peter de Villiers.

Whilst the All Blacks now lead this epic rivalry 42-30, both teams find themselves in a remarkably similar situation.

Both sides have had a loss this season leading up to the Tri-nations, and haven't shown the form expected from the talent available. Both coaches are supposedly safe until the 2011 rugby World Cup, but whichever coach does not hold the Tri-nations at the end of the season will find the thermometer of public pressure from two rugby-crazed nations soaring to boiling point.

Graham Henry has had six years at the helm so we know what to expect from his All Black sides. But Peter de Villiers remains an enigma, his Springbok sides producing the sublime, the lacklustre, and the ridiculous.

With a settled Springbok squad, and a tough series against the British and Irish Lions under their belt we will finally see the mark de Villiers leaves on this Springbok side.

There can be no excuses of getting to know the squad, rustiness or politics. He has chosen his squad, worked with them for an extended period, and now is the time to deliver results.

Whilst I sympathise with de Villiers, the Springbok coaching job can be lonely and extremely tough, and having to converse in English when your native tongue is Afrikaans isn't as easy as it sounds, the time has come for results. Results and worthy performances.

I've been prepared to be the eternal optimist, and view the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. Whilst the report card I gave him for the British and Irish Lions series was not particularly praiseworthy, I hope he has learnt his lessons, can deliver on his promise, and become the coach many of his players do speak highly of. 

I'm expecting some sizzling Springbok performances, they are definitely overdue!

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