Jake White


Jake White

Looking at the man’s impeccable record in South African rugby, one quickly becomes keenly aware of just how the fates have seemingly always smiled at Mr. White. Starting off as a humble Parktown Boy’s High School coach, he quickly returned to his old school to become a teacher and coach where he immediately started to make his mark by leading the school through a number of wins.

The powers that be, noticing the young Jake’s rise, soon put him in charge as the Provincial Schools Coach. Later before 2004, Jake found himself as a technical analyst of the Springbok, using video to aid his technical analysis, he remained as an assistant for the preparations of the Springbok Squad. Firmly making his mark as an international coach, Jake went on to make his first international feat by winning the U-21 Rugby Union World Cup during 2002.

In early 2004, Jake white was appointed as the National team’s head coach in South Africa. Just the previous year the Springboks had performed rather poorly and had lost the 2003 World cup. Jake had a lot of work to do if he was to continue his lucky streak. SA Rugby had endured a dramatic turmoil in 2003. The horrific scandal of Kamp Staaldraad loomed in the fresh memories of South African Rugby fans.

Kamp Staaldraad (direct translation to English: Camp Barbed Wire) was the worst nightmare the South African public could ever have to endure. Details about how the team was tortured at a police camp all in the name of removing individualistic sentiment from any of the players in a boot-camp style started to emerge.

The public soon learned how under the leadership of then Springbok national coach Rudolph Straeuli, the players were each made to climb into a foxhole naked while singing the national anthem, at the same time ice cold water being poured over their heads.

As if that was not enough they were also subjected to recordings of God Save the Queen (England’s National Anthem) and the fierce New Zealand All Blacks haka war dance both played at full blast volume. Players were also forced to crawl while naked across the gravel. Finally spending a night in the bush and also forced to catch and cook chicken but not allowed to eat it, I can only vaguely dream what this was about.

Picture of bullet

The man who later came out as the whistle blower to this terrible scandal, Mr. Dale McDermott was found dead, just like that, the man lives all his life only to supposedly kill himself after being the hero who brought this matter to light. Apparently from a suicide (I personally don’t believe that though, I think the poor man was killed by revenge seekers, God only knows whom with the killers might have been aligned), one bullet deep in his skull.

With the premise of this detestable image, Jake White was a breath of fresh air into South African rugby. At first many doubted him and the critics, like vultures smelling a dead carcass, could not stop but lament about his seeming bad decisions, most had mainly contention about the matter of making John Smit the Captain, as well as continuing with the same squad of 2004 players while there were other players with better form in SA.

White made history in 2005, beating the Wallabies for the first time since 1971 and also more than 3 times in a single year. Squashing all doubt about his prior decisions amongst his naysayers, Jake White went on to retain the Mandela Challenge Plate, though the Tri-Nations Cup evaded him during that year.

In 2005 he made history again by dismantling the Uraguay side in a record clinching 134-3 defeat and a first victory against New Zealand since 1976. During his tenure the Springboks held the longest undefeated streak at home, with 13 successive test wins in a row, finally becoming the first South African team to beat Australia at home since 1998. 2007 Was a tremendous year for white, sealing his own name in the books of 21st century history, White clinched the world cup (2007) and took South Africa from 6th in 2003 to 1st in IRB World Rankings during 2007.

The man is a legend in South African and international sports. And of late, he has been confirmed to be joining the Sharks as Director of Rugby, I presume it means coach to those of us who are more keenly aware of soccer terms, he will officially take over from Brendan Venter next season, which is starting at the end of October, he will immediately be involved with the team as well.

I am sure that the Sharks will be showcasing some glorious feats soon to come from this Rugby magician. I am pitifully sorry for Heyneke Meyer though, (current Springbok Coach) as he has such huge shoes to fill. Times will tell and though the man is passionate and drastically emotional about his teams’ play, we will see if he will make a mark to be reckoned with in days to come.