Jake White acknowledges that it is “fair criticism” that he has changed rugby teams often, but his choice to extend his contract with the Bulls by three years on Friday proves that he is in the right position.
The former Springbok manager committed to Loftus Versfeld until 2027, and although not completely ruling out coaching at the Test level in the future, he is content in Pretoria.
To be honest, I always planned to look for… White, who has coached teams like the Brumbies, Sharks, and Montpellier in a long coaching career spanning about 40 years, admitted that he “probably chased things” during a press conference on Friday. “Having coached internationally at a very young age and having experienced the highs of winning the World Cup, maybe I probably chased things,” White said.
“Hindsight is simple… Maybe I was hunting for that ideal job when I made that move. I may have decided to remain here for that reason. Five more years in Pretoria, five more years with the current roster of players and the current structure of the organisation… with the individuals in the group above me who share the same goal and sense of continuity.
“I’m loving it, as Edgar (Rathbone, CEO of the Bulls) says, and it’s working. I guess it is fair to criticise me for moving. However, I assume the reason I relocated was to land in the circumstance I am in right now.
“All of the lessons I’ve learned have helped me understand what I can and cannot have. And when I have what I’ve got here — a terrific group of players, imaginative leadership, and a desire to win — that’s when it’s really amazing. Imagine working in a company where it didn’t really matter whether or not you won.
“It simply fits perfectly. Given where I am in life, what I know and have learned, and the people I am around by, it fits well.
While White hasn’t been in command of another international squad since leading the Boks to victory at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, he wouldn’t necessarily say no to returning to the Test arena.
“Never say never, they say. After the 2007 World Cup, I really believed I would become an international rugby coach. Now that 15 years have passed and another World Cup is coming up in 2018, four World Cups would have passed since I coached international rugby, the 58-year-old added.
“I can’t say never, but there are things you can manage,” It’s a huge blessing that these folks support me. When your board asks you to remain because it’s a terrific place to be, that’s one of the nicest compliments.
And if I demonstrate that I’m a part of it, maybe that will inspire the players to declare, “I want to be a part of it too. If so, I have no doubt that the Bulls will have success.
After losing to the Stormers in the United Rugby Championship final the previous season, the Bulls will be hoping to advance after facing the Lions on Saturday (4:05 p.m. kickoff) at Ellis Park.
Rathbone stated his joy that White would attempt to win additional trophies over the next several years since there is also the Champions Cup to be played later in the year.
“Absolutely thrilled about it, we are. The work Jake has done over the last two years has been incredible, and I firmly feel that Jake and I, working in tandem with the board and the union, are creating something very exceptional here,” Rathbone added.
“We think that this is the proper move, especially with players dedicating their long-term careers to the Bulls as well. In rugby, it’s important to keep things under control, and that’s what we’re attempting to do by providing consistency in both the coaching staff and the playing roster.
If I claimed we joined a contest with no expectation of winning, I’d be lying. The Bulls strive to succeed in every contest we participate.
We recognise that there is a building process in place, but if we can keep our squad together for the next years, we can build on the trophies we’ve already won and the environment inside the club will only grow better.