Smit and De Villiers bow out of South Africa side
Updated: October 09, 2011, 06:07
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand(AP) South Africa captain John Smit and coach Peter de Villiers ended their international careers overseeing a dominant display at the Rugby World Cup.
Unfortunately for them, the dominance didn't stretch to the scoreboard and their stints with the Springboks ended with an 11-9 quarterfinal defeat to Australia.
The defending World Cup champions dominated the Wallabies in just about every way Sunday at Wellington Regional Stadium, but just could not make it count.
"You are never prepared for when it ends, because you want it to be a fairy tale, you want it to be in a final having won it,'' said Smit after 111 tests over 11 years. "It hasn't worked out like that.''
If he left any kind of legacy, Smit said, he hoped it would be the influence he has exerted over his teammates and the influence they've had over him.
Smit said he hoped that in the future, players might look at challenges facing them and ask "Well, what would have Smitty done in this situation?''
The pair both showed obvious emotion as they answered questions less than an hour after the final whistle, but De Villiers managed to show the humor that illuminated his four-year stint in charge.
"It's not a funeral, eh'' the ever-sunny De Villiers joked.
A black man coaching in a sport that is traditionally white in South Africa, De Villiers faced charges throughout his time with the Springboks that his appointment owed more to tokenism than to talent.
But he said it had been a "brilliant journey'' to be able to work with people who were so passionate about their country.
"People who always put their body on the line to try to bring hope for the poor people back at home who don't have the privilege that most of you guys have,'' De Villiers said. "It was really incredible for me all the way.''
At least the pair ended with a performance - if not a result - they could be proud of.
They spent more than three-quarters of the game in Australian territory and dominated possession. Smit said it was the only time he could remember dominating a game in every statistical way but on the scoreboard.
The South Africans were clearly unhappy with the way New Zealand referee Bryce Lawrence ruled the breakdown, where Wallaby openside David Pocock slowed the ball and forced several turnovers.
Smit said it was disappointing that the breakdowns weren't ruled more vehemently, while de Villiers held his tongue, saying it wasn't the time to make judgments about the referee's performance.
The South Africans played a classic World Cup game and often looked threatening near Australia's line but couldn't break through. A disallowed try for a forward pass was the huge difference.
Although South Africa's play often lacked spark, they appeared more disciplined and organized than the Australians.