Div's sex-tape saga that never was
In this extract from the autobiography of the former Springbok coach, Peter de Villiers and Gavin Rich say it was a plot by people who didn't like the colour of Div's skin - or his strong character
A WEEK after the Springboks' big win over Australia, which some felt saved me my job, the sex-tape scandal broke. All I can say from the outset is that I couldn't believe how low my enemies would stoop to discredit me. You ask me if there was such a tape? No, there wasn't.
The first time I heard about the so-called sex tape was the weekend of the Tri-Nations test against the All Blacks in Cape Town. Chris Hewitt, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) media manager who was later killed in a light aircraft crash, told me of the existence of the tape. Apparently Cheeky Watson and Cedric Frolick were going to reveal a sex tape that they had obtained of me in a compromising position with a woman in a car park during a trip to the Eastern Cape. As I later told the newspapers, it amazed me that people thought I had the time for such things.
By then Chris had informed me that Cedric, who as an ANC MP was involved with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation, had told him that he would rather have a white coach who would listen to him than a black coach who did his own thing.
I knew no such thing as a sex tape existed . So I said to Chris, "Tell them to bring it, man. I'm looking forward to seeing this." I was actually laughing when I said it. It seemed like a big joke at the time. I called Oregan Hoskins, something Chris was adamant I shouldn't do.
"Let's just keep this between us," he pleaded.
"No," I said. "This is a serious allegation and if there is a sex tape involved, then the president of the union needs to know."
I could tell that Chris was mortified that I was making the call. Oregan asked to speak to Chris. Chris was very polite and almost fawning when he spoke to Oregan. You could tell he didn't want him or anyone else involved. Someone had obviously miscalculated my reaction - perhaps they had hoped that I would just meet whatever demands they were going to make without involving Saru or any other authority figure.
At the time, Chris was facing a disciplinary hearing for transgressions relating to team protocol. Chris loved being around the players but for some reason he didn't understand that he had to attend team meetings when required to do so. He was subsequently killed in that tragic accident, and no sex tape was ever produced. However, Saru did nothing to clear my name. There was never an official inquiry or a hearing.
Either Saru were worried that if they pursued the matter, they would discover that such a tape existed, or they wanted to leave a question mark hanging over my behaviour. I suspected that they could find the incident useful if they ever wanted to get rid of me.
However, the "sex tape" wasn't a problem at first because I just laughed it off, and it wasn't made public at the time but handled internally. But then a week after the end of the Tri-Nations, I received a call from Neil de Beer saying that a newspaper was going to run a story about the sex tape the next day.
Neil told me that even the rugby administrators, who had so many contacts in the media, couldn't stop the story from appearing. But to me, it looked like they didn't want to stop it.
So the story ran. I told the newspapers that no such tape existed and denied that I would ever have been involved in such an incident. But that didn't stop the story from gaining momentum.
I was in Stellenbosch the next day watching the national club championship and it wasn't a pleasant place to be, as everyone was staring at me and it was all anybody wanted to talk about. It is one hell of a thing to have hanging over you.
It also had a really negative effect on my family. When you see your 80-year-old mother in tears, you can't help but wonder whether being Springbok coach is all it's made out to be if this is the price you pay. My daughter Odile, who was in Grade 11 that year, went from being a B-candidate for matric to a D-average. People taunted her about the "sex tape" at school.
It was against this background of bitter disappointment and frustration that I made the comment about giving rugby back to the whites, which Saru heavily objected to at the time.
"I knew there were still people who do not want a black coach," I told the Sunday Times. "I just never knew the extent people would go to [to] discredit me. My biggest problem is [that] I've now got to sit down with my wife and two daughters. People will stop them and ask them [about the tape] and that is why I think I should walk away from this job and give it back to the whites."
I was referring to the faction that was working against me, the writer of the article and people like Mark Keohane, who I knew was trying to get Jake White reinstated. I had been told of a conversation Mark had had with Rian Oberholzer during which he'd said that Saru must reappoint Jake.
Apparently Mark had said, "We want to get rid of this guy, because we want Jake back." Rian's response had been: "Are you mad? SA Rugby won't bring Jake or any other white coach back."
People were saying that rugby was in the "wrong hands". But they just didn't want to give me a chance because of the colour of my skin and my strong character. I thought to myself, why give my life for my country when everyone is against me? If people won't respect me, I would rather just hand the job back to the people who had been in control before. I now realise I was wrong to make that comment, as it blanketed all whites together. That was a generalisation, as I knew there were a lot of good white people and just a minority was working against me.
I asked Oregan to get to the bottom of it . But that never happened. Saru would not defend me. And I thought they should have helped me. Instead, I was being hung out to dry.
However, if I had indeed committed such a bad deed, I should surely not have been allowed to remain in the Springbok job, which was why I urged Oregan to get to the bottom of the matter. To this day, this has not been done. The whole tape saga was just left hanging in the air.
At least I knew why my enemies had chosen that moment to "reveal" the tape's existence and why the story appeared in the newspapers at that time. I didn't have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. I had lost four matches in the Tri-Nations, which had led to the assumption that I was on my way out, but when the team triumphed in the last Tri-Nations game against Australia, it made it more difficult for them to get rid of me.
So the way I see it, Cheeky and Cedric wanted me suspended, and if that was the plan - and I did only have Chris's word linking them to the tape - then it didn't work.
I have to explain what had happened between me and Cheeky Watson in the early part of the Tri-Nations series and up until the time the sex-tape story broke. As I've mentioned, Cheeky was in New Zealand for the first Tri-Nations test in Wellington and took a room on the opposite side of mine at the Duxton Hotel. Not long after he arrived, he called my room to tell me that he had been sent to New Zealand to pass on a message from the minister of sport. Apparently Makhenkesi Stofile was very unhappy with the way I was treating Cheeky's son Luke, as were other politicians back home, who were incensed because I wasn't starting with him [Luke was on the bench].
I told Cheeky that I would not make political decisions, but my own. It did not necessarily mean that Luke would not play, but that I would be guided only by rugby decisions when I selected my team.
When it became clear to Cheeky that I wasn't going to bow to his pressure, he packed up and flew home.
But once back in South Africa, Cheeky started campaigning against me behind the scenes and it appeared as if Cedric was his trusted foot soldier. In no time at all [sports administrators] Butana Komphela and Asad Bhorat were criticising me in the newspapers. So I was left in little doubt that my "friends" were now my enemies and were out to get me.
When I got back to South Africa, I was summoned to the minister of sport's house for a meeting but I couldn't make it, as we were already in Durban. Butana then got on my case in a big way, saying that I had no respect for the minister. They took me on publicly about the selection of Fourie du Preez ahead of Ricky Januarie, which appeared to be their main complaint but I knew it was only a smoke screen.
So then I was summoned to meet with the minister in Cape Town, where Stofile duly scolded me. But after he finished, I had my turn. I told the minister that I was really disappointed in him: why would he send a white guy to New Zealand to express his fury that I hadn't selected a white player? Why, I asked, was he supporting a white player when there were so many black players struggling to make it through the system? It came as no surprise to me when Stofile then told me that he hadn't spoken to Cheeky in over a year. He seemed genuinely surprised at my allegation.
So had Cheeky been using the minister as leverage to get his way, and all for the purpose of getting his son into the team? After the incident with Cheeky in New Zealand and with the support group distancing itself from me, I suspected they would use any angle they could to discredit me...
The whole sex-tape saga left a bitter taste in my mouth. I just couldn't believe that some of my fellow South Africans could sink so low as to try to destroy people for committing other crimes in our country, but when someone damages your reputation, it seems you cannot expect justice to be done. I will say again what I said then - rugby really isn't worth the kind of sacrifice I was being asked to make.
And I sincerely hope no other Springbok coach has to endure something similar in future.
- This is an edited extract from Politically Incorrect: The Autobiography, co-authored by Rich