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25 Nov 2007 09:44
Departing South Africa coach Jake White insisted he wouldn’t miss the demands of international rugby after seeing his last Test in charge of the Springboks end in a 34-12 win for the world champions over Wales in Cardiff at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
“I am not going to get bored at all,” White said. “I am going to enjoy the fact I can watch a Test match without getting emotionally involved.”
“I am going to spend some time watching my little boys play, telling their coaches how poor their coaching is and just putting pressure on every single coach who coaches them to see if they can become captain,” he joked.
White, who last month guided South Africa to a 15-6 World Cup final success over England in Paris, is bowing out after four turbulent years at the helm.
The 43-year-old, who leaves with a record of 36 wins from 54 Tests with one draw and 17 defeats, constantly had to tread a path between fans of the Springboks, one of world rugby union’s traditional giants, demanding success at almost any cost and politicians who wanted more black players selected to make the team more representative of post-apartheid South Africa.
Any hope he might seek a new contract appeared to be finally scuppered when the South Africa Rugby Union took the highly unusual step of readvertising his job while the World Cup was still in progress.
It was the final straw for White who last year, having got backing from officials to take an experimental squad to England, found himself summoned home by rugby chiefs after the team narrowly lost the first of two Twickenham Tests.
But he was spared the sack after a 25-14 win at Twickenham on November 25 2006, which, ironically, was Andy Robinson’s final game as England coach before he was forced out.
“The lesson I’ve learned is that you’ve just got to stick to what you believe in.
I am just privileged to be going out on my terms,” added White, who since the World Cup has been linked with several high-profile jobs, including that of Wales coach, which Warren Gatland takes up next week.
White, fielding nine of the team that started the World Cup final, saw his side withstand early pressure on Saturday before exploiting Wales’s defensive weaknesses as they sprinted into a 22-0 lead just after the half-hour mark.
South Africa scored five tries to Wales’s two with Jaque Fourie touching down twice and impressive wing JP Pietersen, whose fine handling helped create the centre’s double, adding one of his own.
World Cup-winning flanker Juan Smith opened the Springboks’ try tally before, in what could be a sign of things to come, 22-year-old debutant number eight Ryan Kankowski crossed 13 minutes from time in a game where Schalk Burger, South Africa’s “other” back-row, was named man of the match.
Kankowski, and prop Heinke van der Merwe, who came off the bench for a debut, fitted in without fuss and White said: “What made it so nice this week for Ryan and Heinke is that they didn’t look like new caps.
South African rugby was in bad shape when White took over from Rudolph Straeuli following the controversy surrounding his predecessor’s military-style training camp ahead of the 2003 World Cup.
Asked what the key to the turnaround had been, White replied: “Going back to the value system and the traditions that are important to South African rugby. There is a standard that is set before us and unfortunately that’s the one thing you’re not allowed to negotiate on. That’s the message I have been trying to explain to players.”
White, before next weekend’s non-cap clash with the Barbarians at Twickenham, will address a two-day International Rugby Board forum in Woking, southern England, where the game’s leading administrators will discuss such issues as a global season and whether the World Cup should be held more than once every four years.
“They’ve said, ‘Should the World Cup be every two years or four years?’ I think it should be every 10 years starting next year, but I don’t think they are going to take that decision from me,” said a smiling White.—Sapa-AFP
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