Jake White on the impact RassieGate saga will have on other SA teams
REACTION: World Cup-winning former Springbok coach Jake White believes it will take a while for South Africa’s battered image to recover from the RassieGate sage.
He also suggested there could be some form of ‘fall-out’ for SA teams in other competitions – such as the United Rugby Championship and European Cup.
White, speaking ahead of the Bulls’ Round Eight URC encounter with Ospreys at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, likened the reputational damage of Rassie Erasmus’ Twitter tirades to that of Kamp Staaldraad ahead of the 2003 World Cup.
Erasmus, South Africa’s Director of R, is serving a two-game matchday ban handed out by World Rugby in the wake of his criticism of refereeing decisions on social media.
Erasmus missed the Springboks’ 63-21 win over Italy in Genoa last weekend and the 50-year-old, who guided South Africa to 2019 World Cup glory, will not be at Twickenham when England hosts SA on Saturday.
Experienced English referee Wayne Barnes, who oversaw South Africa’s 26-30 loss to France in Marseille this month, received threats on social media after Erasmus posted sarcastic tweets accompanied by videos of perceived refereeing errors.
Erasmus had only just returned from a year-long suspension following his infamous hour-long video criticising referee Nic Berry’s performance during the 2021 tour by the British and Irish Lions.
The Bulls’ Director of Rugby, White, said there is no doubt that what is happening “behind the scenes” will have an influence on other SA teams.
White used the infamous ‘Kamp Staaldraad’ saga in 2003 as an example of events that can cause huge ‘damage’ to a brand’s image.
(Article continues below …)
“It takes a while before people see the brand differently,” White said.
“Every day now people talk more about off-field issues than they talk about the world champions,” he said of the Springboks’ year-end tour.
“I think it has been coming for a long time,” he said of South African frustrations with refereeing decisions, adding that rulings in the URC Final earlier this year – won 18-13 by the Stormers – are still being talked about.
“I’ve said it before: ‘Certain things you can control, certain things you can’t’.
“I have coached [in the] European Cup and Challenge Cup with Montpellier.
“[You get] the interpretation of the French referees in the Top 14 and then get referees from other countries like England and Scotland in the European Cup that are different.
“Any coach who coaches at this level understands that.
“They are never going to get it right,” he said of the refereeing issues.
“We do reports on referees every week, through our referee coordinator.
“Most coaches will get a review back from the referee and the assessor saying: ‘We are sorry we made two or three big mistakes’.
“That doesn’t change anything.
“To this day we are still talking about whether Evan Roos crawled in the [URC] Final. But what difference does it make?
“The reality is you have to get on with it.
“As a coach, everyone has days when they are frustrated.
“Does it do damage?,” he asked about Erasmus’ rather public outbursts
“I am sure it does damage.”
He said he hopes his experience will help him lead his team into two really tough competitions – the URC and European Cup – with two squads and show they are good enough.
He added that referees need to get on with their jobs.
White said that his job is to prepare his team for tough challenges different interpretations and different conditions.