CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- South Africa have named their first black coach with Peter De Villiers picked to succeed Jake White in charge of rugby union's world champions.
De Viliers is all smiles as he lands the top job in South African rugby.
White stood down after leading South Africa to World Cup glory as they beat defending champions England in the final last year, but the selection of De Villiers, who has been in charge of the under-21 side, is something of a surprise.
"Peter has created history today by becoming the first black person to coach the Springboks." South African Rugby Union (SARU) chief executive Johan Prinsloo told a press conference in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Heyneke Meyer, a former coach of the Pretoria-based Bulls Super 14 team, was considered favorite for the vacant job with former South Africa assistant coach Allister Coetzee and former Super 12 Cats coach Chester Williams also on the four-man shortlist.
SARU has been heavily criticized by the South African government over the racial make-up of the Springboks.
But De Villiers, who has been given a two-year contract, told reporters that color would be irrelevant when it came to selection.
"The fact that I am the first black coach must end now," he said.
"Players out there must understand they will all stand an equal chance ... If they are good enough, talented enough and work hard enough they will be part of the squad." E-mail to a friend