VIDEO: The lost coaching IP costing South Africa
IN CONVERSATION WITH JAKE WHITE: The talent drain from South Africa stretches well beyond just the players.
In fact, the country’s coaching pathways needs a lot of attention as well, according to World Cup-winning former Springbok coach Jake White.
White, speaking to historian and author Dean Allen – as part of the recently-completed fund-raising efforts for the Chris Burger and Petro Jackson Players Fund – said South African certainly does not lack for talent.
“We have an unbelievable ethos of rugby, a culture of rugby,” the current Bulls Director of Rugby said.
“The one thing we can improve on is making sure we give them the best coaching we can through the system.”
White said the most important aspect is to get the coaching pathways right.
“Allister Coetzee doesn’t coach [in SA anymore], Rudolph Straeuli doesn’t coach, Heyneke Meyer doesn’t coach,” he said, adding: “John Ackermann is coaching overseas, Frans Ludeke, who won two Super Rugby championships, is coaching overseas.
“We just need to get that calibre of coach back in South Africa, then we’ll have everything.
“We have the talent, ethos, history, the culture and we have never lost a World Cup Final.
“That means there is something we do right.
“If we continue on that path, there is no reason why we won’t win another [World Cup title].”
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White also spoke about the amazing playing talent he had to work with, leading up to the victorious 2002 IRB Junior World Championship win.
He had players like Ashwin Willemse, Enrico Januarie, Fourie du Preez, Jacques Cronje, Pedrie Wannenburg, Juan Smith, Gary Botha, Gurthrö Steenkamp, Pat Barnard, Schalk Burger and Gordon Gilfillan.
“A lot of those guys went on to become the nuclease of the 2007 [senior] World Cup-winning team,” White said.
He explained how his scenario is similar to that of 1995 World Cup-winning coach Kitch Christ.
“People underestimate how good [the late] Kitch Christie was, because he was a coach for such a short time with the Springboks,” he said of Christie’s run from October 1994 to November 1995, 14 consecutive victories – still the only Bok coach with a 100 percent winning record.
“They forgot he coached Transvaal and it that Transvaal team he had the bulk of the Bok team,” White said.
“[There were players like] Hennie le Roux, Francois Pienaar, Kobus Wiese, Hannes Strydom, Balie Swart, Japie Mulder.
“In effect, he coached the Springboks, even though he filled up the team with players like Mark Andrews, the guys from the Sharks and the Stormers.
“He coached the Boks via the Transvaal team for a long period of time.
“That was similar to my situation. That  World Cup junior Bok team, most of those players graduated into the senior team.
“When we won the World Cup in 2007, I had basically coached them from 2002 – from when they were 19 till they were 25 or 26.”
White also explained his reasoning in bringing current England coach Eddie Jones into the Bok set-up on the eve of the 2007 World Cup.
“He [Jones] was the only coach that was available at the time, that was coaching and had previously coached in a World Cup.
“I could not get Graeme Henry, as he was involved with the All Blacks. Clive Woodward had stopped coaching.
“I had known Eddie Jones for a long time and he was available.
“It was a no-brainer. He lost in the Final of the previous World Cup.
“He was a man who understands how World Cups work.
“I thought it would be a great asset to get someone who could tell me how he would beat South Africa. It helped me and the coaching staff in preparing to do things we needed to get into place.
“I did ask Rassie [Erasmus, the 2019 World Cup-winning Bok coach]. Rassie decided to coach the Stormers.
“Eddie then took the job. I have no doubt having had him around gave us the confidence and having been involved in the World Cup before was always going to give us an added value.”
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