Welcome return of a winning coach

Jake White is a treasure.

In rugby terms he is an analytical and tactical genius. As most rugby fans know, he steered the South African Under-21 side to victory in the 2002 World Cup. Five years later he did the same for the Springboks, after three tumultuous years as national coach.

Along the way he also guided the Boks to a Tri-Nations title in 2004. Not bad for a Jeppe High School old boy born with the name Jacob Westerduin.

South African rugby was the loser when Saru decided not to renew his contract after the 2007 World Cup triumph.

The reasons were obviously personal rather than professional as his replacement was widely regarded as a joke, while White went on to be inducted into the International Rugby Board’s Hall of Fame

Recognising his talent, the Australian Brumbies recruited him. White’s performance there has been exemplary. Taking over a squad in disarray, in two years he helped make them good enough to contest the Super Rugby final.

His surprise decision to quit the Brumbies two years before the end of his contract seems to have been motivated in part by the appointment of Ewen McKenzie as Wallaby coach, a job White coveted.

In his regular column in The Saturday Citizen, White quotes legendary Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson as saying “there is a time to stay and a time to go, and that decision is probably the toughest of them all to make”.

For rugby fans it is exceedingly good news that White has decided to return to South Africa. As long as he is gainfully employed in the sport, his presence will raise standards.

And we all know how rugby success lifts this nation.

Welcome back.


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