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Bulls director of rugby Jake White: 'I don’t think we will play Super Rugby'

23 April 2020 - 12:50 By LIAM DEL CARME
Bulls director of rugby Jake White.
Bulls director of rugby Jake White.

Bulls director of rugby Jake White believes Super Rugby is unlikely to resume this season.

White says too much time has been lost due to the knock on effects of Covid-19 for the tournament to resume in an already congested fixture list.

“I don’t think we will play Super Rugby. I might be wrong," he said. 

"Time is running out to get all those games in, especially if they are not sure about opening New Zealand and Australia.”

But White, who was installed as director of rugby after the Bulls made a faltering start to Super Rugby, has to prepare his team for all eventualities.

In the event the tournament, or whatever iteration is dreamt up by Sanzaar, returns to the field White believes the first seven rounds that were played up until the second week of March should be scrapped. 

“You can’t resume the same competition. I’d like to believe we’d start again. We wouldn’t start second last and the Sharks are on top. Otherwise there would be no use playing in that competition.

“If we play in another competition and say it is called the Super Cup with the Kings and the Cheetahs you can’t have the previous results. Let’s be fair, that wasn’t a competition. We’ve all said it time and again Super Rugby is based on the draw. You can’t have seven rounds and then have a winner.”

White, who coached the Springboks from 2004 until 2007 when they won the Rugby World Cup, has inherited a side on the wane. 

He contends, however, that the break in hostilities in Super Rugby may prove beneficial to the Bulls as it affords them time to reassess and reset.

“The one thing the Bulls probably needed is a longer off season, pre-season. They were seventh in the Currie Cup and lost five of the last six games (in Super Rugby). These players need time to regroup and reflect on where we are. How we play, what’s working, what is not working? Are the staff comfortable with what we are doing is right?”

Bestowed with executive powers to revive the team’s flagging fortunes White, it has been reported, has already sharpened his axe.

“Already there has been a lot of speculation about who is leaving and who is coming in and it isn’t helpful,” he said about the potential exit of coach Pote Human and others on the coaching staff.

What is clear is that the Super Rugby hiatus has given him time to get his ducks in a row.

Due to the nationwide lockdown, however, White has to do it remotely. 

He is at home in Hermanus orchestrating the team’s return to play battle plan.

“As soon as the lockdown is over I will be moving to Pretoria. I’d rather be at home now than being stuck in a hotel room. I spend a lot of time on Zoom calls and on my computer talking to conditioning coaches which you probably don’t do every day when you are coaching a team on the field.”

Having coached the Boks, in Australia, France and more recently Japan, White is back home driven by a sense of duty. The Bulls, he feels, are too big a deal to be languishing near the bottom of the Super Rugby table. 

“It is one of the biggest teams in the world. This team has a strong history and legacy.”