Brumbies exit was right choice

Sir Alex Ferguson, one of the great coaches in modern sport, walked away from Manchester United, one of the most successful clubs in the world, at the top of a fabled career in football.

That Ferguson philosophy also extended to the players at Old Trafford. His thinking that, as tough a course of action as it might be, losing a player a year early was a greater gift to the individual than having to let him go a year late.

And look at the players he has let go … David Beckham, Roy Keane, Eric Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo … the list goes on.

Sir Alex has always said that there is a time to stay and a time to go and that decision is probably the toughest of them all to make. Having made his, he walked away from success. I’m not trying to equate my coaching career with Sir Alex, but I can identify with how difficult it is to make the hard choices.

The timing just never seems perfect. In many ways, leaving the Brumbies was a very hard thing for me to do.

I have enjoyed my time there immensely, especially watching them develop into an outfit who play for one another and cover for one another. They have come from being virtual no-hopers to the Super Rugby final.

And they have done it, fast- tracking their progress into two years rather than the four I had envisioned when I took the plunge to go and coach overseas.

Deciding to leave Canberra was not an overnight thing. I have been thinking about this very hard for some time and tough though the wrench has been, I think I leave the Brumbies in a very good space.

When I left they had 15 players who had earned a Wallaby jersey, when I first arrived, there were just three. The team have ticked all the boxes drawn up for them.

Another part of what I was mandated to do was put a succession plan in place and open the way for guys like Laurie Fisher, Stephen Larkham and George Gregan, who are all steeped in the Brumbie tradition and ready to step up. That part of it is also firmly in place.

But that said, I have never made a secret of the fact that my long-term goal was to get back into coaching at international level.

And yes, while I remain a passionately patriotic South African, not getting the opportunity to coach the Wallabies, was a major consideration. I also had other things on my mind before I made any decision.

This is not quite the landscape I envisioned when I made the decision to become a professional coach. And there is some uncertainty about where that landscape will take me now.

I also remember people saying I was selfish taking the Brumbies job and being away from home for extended periods; now others are saying I’m being selfish by wanting to come home and spend more time with my family, something I truly owe them.

But sometimes you just have to go on gut feel and, as Sir Alex so rightly pointed out, it’s often better that it happens sooner than later.

* Jake White is South Africa’s World Cup-winning coach of 2007.




today in print

today in print