[FIRST ON EWN] Jake White still covets Bok return
The Springbok World Cup-winning coach has expressed his hopes of once again having the opportunity to coach the national team.
CAPE TOWN - Springbok World Cup-winning coach Jake White has expressed his hopes of once again having the opportunity to coach the national team in an exclusive interview with EWN Sport at his home in France.
White is currently coaching French club Montpellier, but he leaves at the end of this season, with current Scotland coach Vern Cotter replacing him.
On Monday SA Rugby confirmed that Allister Coetzee will stay on in his role despite a disastrous 2016 where the Springboks lost eight out of 12 tests. Franco Smith has been added as an assistant with a high-profile defensive appointment still to be made.
The Springboks have a tough upcoming three-Test home series against France in June after which it’s been mooted that should their losing streak continue that SA Rugby could look to an alternative.
Speaking before that announcement, White said the opportunity to coach his country again would be an opportunity that he coveted.
“I think that’s never changed that I would like to be involved in international rugby again. Any guy who has competed at the highest level will tell you that’s where you measure yourself. When you’ve had a taste of it ... I was lucky enough to have some success. I would like to measure myself again on the world stage but it’s not always in your hands.”
“The Boks job - there’s always speculation and every time you say 'yes, I’d like to'. It either comes across as though you’re pushing for a job or it comes across that you’re trying to oust somebody else from the job. Learning from my experiences I will just wait and see what happens. If it’s meant to be then it’s meant to be. As a guy that’s been involved in the Boks but more importantly measured in test rugby, it’s something that I’d like to get into anyway.”
WATCH: Jake White talks job hunting and the Boks' struggles
Twenty-sixteen will go down as one of the darkest seasons in Springbok history with player and fans across the board expressing their disapproval at the results. White said that it was tough to watch.
“It’s hurts me and I was never a Springbok, I was a Springbok coach, so I can just imagine what it must mean to some guys who played in that jersey. One of the things that I’ve learnt as an old boy of a school, that is obviously a very big old boy’s school (Jeppe) and a very old English-speaking school, is that one of the things that old boys pride themselves on is how good their First XV is when they leave. I don’t think it’s any different.
"I think that any ex-Bok who looks now and sees the South Africans struggling and sees them going down further and further in the world rankings, and obviously people talking about SA losing that aura that they used to have, I’m sure it’s not different for them as it would for an old boy of a boys’ school seeing their 1st XV struggle from week to week.
“It’s not an attack on anybody as a former Bok coach you look at it and you think it’s quite scary to think how quickly you can lose it. I think that anyone who’s involved in sport knows how long it takes to create whatever you want to create, it’s quite eye-opening to see how quickly you can basically go from having something really special to having something that people believe that they can beat.”
White, 53, hasn’t committed to any post beyond his current deal said but that another job in the Top 14 is likely out of the question.
“It’s difficult to go one from club to another in the same country, it’s a bit like if I was at the Brumbies going to the Reds, or from the Sharks to the Bulls – I think it can be difficult because of the way that I’ve grown up, sort of spent a lot of time creating something at a club here and if you go across the road or another club that plays against them it can be quite odd, in my eyes. So, I don’t have any ambitions to stay in France at this point in time.”
White has received criticism in some quarters for putting himself forward for positions but said that he’s learnt from those experiences.
“In terms of what’s next I’ve been quite fortunate in the time that I’ve been involved in rugby that opportunities come about. The one thing that I’ve learnt, rightly or wrongly, is that maybe when you put your hands up for jobs that it comes back to bite you. I think at this point in time that the lesson I’ve learnt is I’d like to finish with Montpellier properly, I’d like to do as well as we can and then whatever’s meant to be from June will happen on its own. If it’s not meant to happen then I’ll just wait until something comes about.
“Often people ask me about the positives and negatives of going from one job to the other. The positives are that you’re in the system, you actively involved in rugby. The negatives are that you need a break sometimes because you can go from the one job to the other too quickly.
“So I suppose looking at the next couple of things in the next couple of years, I’ve been two-and-a-half years in a Australia, a year and a bit in Durban with the Sharks and now almost two-and-a-half years in France, so I probably need a bit of time to regroup. But by saying that you might read in the next couple of weeks that I’ve another job and that’s not because I’ve changed my mind it’s because circumstances change as well.”
WATCH: Jake White on his future
(Edited by Shimoney Regter)