White, Sharks break-up not amicable

FILE PICTURE: Jake White head coach of the Sharks during the 2014 Super Rugby Sharks Press Conference at the Kings Parks Stadium in Kwa-Zulu Natal on the 17th of April 2014. Picture: Sabelo Mngoma/BackpagePix

The Sharks have parted ways with their director of rugby, Jake White, after the former World Cup-winning Springbok coach spent no more than a year at the Durban franchise.

Although Sharks CEO John Smit’s statement released on Monday suggested the departure was amicable, it is believed White had lost the confidence of the board due to unhappiness over the unpopular style of play introduced for Super Rugby and deteriorating relationships with players, both seniors and juniors.

While the Sharks are now shorn of a director of rugby just as the Currie Cup reaches a critical stage, White has not been involved on a coaching level anyway, handing over the reins of that team to Brad Macleod-Henderson and Sean Everitt.

Smit said White had already put in place all the plans for next year’s Super Rugby campaign and praised his former Springbok coach for his work on the structures of Sharks rugby.

“Jake was also tasked to up-skill the young coaches as well as tidy up all rugby structures across the board from our academy all the way to our senior team. Initially it was thought this would take some time. However, being allowed to concentrate on these tasks during the Absa Currie Cup has fast-tracked the process and we can happily say our SuperRugby squad is in place and our pre-season plan ready to go.

“The mentoring role Jake has played to our coaches has been invaluable and the time is right for Jake to free himself up for any international coaching and consulting opportunities. The 2015 Rugby World Cup is just months away,” Smit said.

White’s successor could well be John Mitchell, the current head coach at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, although the former All Black coach comes with a reputation for being unflinchingly tough with players (leading to his sacking by the Lions) and his relationship with Smit is not known to be especially warm.

Former Springbok forwards coach Gary Gold has a good relationship with Smit dating back to his time with the national team between 2008 and 2011 and his name has also been suggested as a possible replacement for White.

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