Former South Africa coach De Villiers takes charge of Zimbabwe

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CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Former South Africa coach Peter de Villiers has been appointed to lead Zimbabwe in their bid to reach the rugby World Cup in Japan next year.

De Villiers was unveiled by the Zimbabwe Rugby Union on Wednesday in Harare and he told reporters it was the “greatest day of my life”.

Zimbabwe will play a round-robin set of qualifiers for the World Cup with five other African nations, including favourites Namibia, Kenya, Morocco, Tunisia and Uganda.

The top team will be assured of a place in Japan, where they will face New Zealand, South Africa and Italy in Pool B, while the second-placed side will enter the Repechage stage that involves further play-off games against teams from Asia, South and North America and Europe.

De Villiers, known for his out-spoken views on the game, coached the Sprinboks between 2007 and 2011, winning the Tri-Nations in 2009 and a series against the British & Irish Lions that same year.

He was axed after their controversial 11-9 loss to Australia in the quarter-finals of the World Cup seven years ago.