If you want a perfect example of how our world has become paralysed by political correctness and its chronic inability to accommodate mature debate, then it’s the delayed launch of Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira’s autobiography.
On Thursday, the legendary Springbok prop’s publisher, Pan Macmillan, announced the decision to ditch the July 1 release following “the reaction of some commentators to a single paragraph”.
The passage in question is: “[Peter de Villiers] had been a great coach of the Junior Springboks, but I think at the higher level he was probably fortunate that he was handed a really good squad of players … Peter didn’t do much; most of the work was done by the players.”
This refers to De Villiers’ tenure as Springbok coach from 2008 and 2011.
What’s really sad about this whole saga is that it’s a storm in a teacup.
All Mtawarira does is confirm a widely held belief that De Villiers was more a man-manager than a technical specialist.
It’s even reflected in his record.
De Villiers has never denied what his world view is on the game – he’s a disciple of the running, expansive approach.
His first year, 2008, was indicative of that. The Boks scored 42 tries, but still finished last in that year’s Tri-Nations.
In 2009, there was a dramatic turnaround in fortunes (they won the tournament) and tactics, when the Boks memorably beat the All Blacks three times by employing a more traditional template, based on forward dominance and counterattack.
Given that the spine of De Villiers’ team was Victor Matfield, John Smit, Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw, Fourie du Preez, Bryan Habana and Schalk Burger, it can’t be a coincidence that whispers of player power emerged.
More pertinently, why is that such a bad thing?
To his credit, there was no bitterness from De Villiers and he wished Mtawarira well for the upcoming World Cup.
Mtawarira doesn’t attack De Villiers’ character, he delivers a professional opinion.
These two men showed maturity in this debate.
Some, clearly, don’t.