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Jake White reveals what he learnt from Doc's wisdom

JAKE’S JUDGMENT: In his first column for TheXV website World Cup-winning coach Jake White believes a broken game can be fixed with a return to old-school values.


I was asked, recently, what the impact of COVID-19 will be on the game – domestically and globally.

It made me think about Newton, who once said: ‘For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’.

The other thing I remembered, is that Doc Danie Craven said, ‘rugby will be destroyed by money’.

There are a lot of discussions, worldwide, about how we should react to this pandemic. How do we deal with this?

There is all this talk about a global game and salary cuts.

Those two things – the reaction to the pandemic and what Doc Craven said – resonates with me, when I think about this.


Let me explain.

In these testing times, players who have been playing overseas have realised it is not so great that they are away from their families and on the other side of the world.

Some realised maybe it is better to come home and play in an environment where you can control what is around you.

For every action – in this case, the COVID-19 factor – there is an opposite reaction.


The other aspect is there is this discussion around what is important in rugby and all the talk about the changes they want to implement.

Just looking at the domestic scene.

Jake White Webb Ellis Cup

We will have an extended competition – Super Rugby Unlocked and then Currie Cup – on a home-and-away basis.

Very much like the ‘old school’ Currie Cup.

When I grew up there was no international rugby, due to isolation. The Currie Cup was very much the jewel in the crown for South Africans.

There was plenty of prestige attached to winning the Currie Cup or playing in a Currie Cup Final.

It is generally accepted that in recent years we have lost much of that prestige and the Currie Cup competition has been watered down through circumstances.

That brings me to Doc Craven’s statement, that money will kill the game.

Players have gone overseas, and we lost countless players to teams abroad.

If you look at Petone in New Zealand, a club with a storied history that dates back to 1885, Villagers (the second oldest club in SA, established in 1876) and the other old school clubs – you played there, because your dad played there, your dad played there because his dad played there.

Everyone grew up in that club. The clubs were places of social gatherings for families.

Doc Craven was terrified of rugby losing that ethos.

When money came in guys left Villagers to go play at Hamiltons. Guys left Petone to go play at a rival club.

I am using those as examples, but there are clubs like that all over. Players would have left Diggers to go play for Alberton, which was unheard of.

Doc’s fear was we would lose those old school values, norms, and principles in the game.

I am going the full circle now. Maybe COVID-19 has taught us what we enjoy about the game, players saying: ‘Maybe the money is not that important.’

Some players were stuck on the other side of the world and could not get back to their families. Players who were supposedly getting good salaries had their salaries cut.

This has been a bit of a reaction to the COVID-19 situation.

Maybe we will get back some of those old school values that guys like Doc Craven so treasured.

* To read the full column on TheXV, The Jake White opinion, CLICK HERE!

Jake White

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