It’s time for the South African Rugby Union to bury the hatchet with Jake White and get him involved in South Africa rugby again.
The 2007 World Cup winning coach with the Springboks will be on the lookout for a new job at the end of the northern hemisphere season in 2017 after Montpellier decided to replace him with Scotland coach Vern Cotter.
The French club were reportedly unhappy with White for applying for the England job while coaching them and have decided to replace him.
Ever since SARU decided not to renew his contract at the end of the 2007 World Cup White has always been eager to return to international rugby. He has been linked with the England job several times as he clearly still has ambitions to coach at the highest level, preferably a prestigious team like England.
With Eddie Jones since taking that job and proving quite successful, it seems White will have to wait at least until after the 2019 World Cup in Japan to have another shot at it.
It is true White has a complicated relationship with the rugby bosses in South Africa, but they would be foolish not to try and smooth things over in an attempt to get him involved in South Africa rugby.
White is arguably the best coach South Africa have produced since Nick Mallet and to not make use of his experience and rugby acumen would be foolish.
There is clear void of quality, experienced coaches in South Africa and someone with White’s credentials could add a lot of value. Apart from winning the World Cup White also took the Brumbies and Sharks to the Super Rugby final and has made Montpellier a competitive outfit in the Top 14.
The man at SARU who had the biggest issue with White was Oregan Hoskins who has since resigned as president and is set to be replaced by Mark Alexander. It’s doubtful SARU will have the desire or humility to approach White but it would be a good rugby decision taken for the good of the game.
SARU have already lost Rassie Erasmus as general manager of rugby affairs to Irish club Munster and White would be the perfect candidate to replace him.
The issues Bok coach Allister Coetzee face have been brutally exposed this season and while he is surrounded by an inexperienced coaching staff, White’s involvement can only add value to a system which is broken. His previous working relationship with Coetzee at the Boks should make it easier.
It’s time to forgive and forget and do what’s best for South African rugby. Surely White would be interested to improve local rugby as he has always remained very passionate about the game in South Africa. Approaching White to get involved in some capacity makes rugby sense.
The question remains is SARU and White big enough to move on from the past and make it work?
by Kobus Pretorius