White made KZN club rugby competitive again

2014-09-30 00:00

KZN club rugby is in a better space thanks to the contribution of Jake White.

According to Durban Collegians head coach Robin Swanepoel, who guided the club side to the Moor Cup title this season, White’s structures and plans for club rugby have benefitted all of the premier division clubs this year.

“I only have good things to say about Jake’s work with club rugby this year. It really was a step in the right direction to develop club structures,” Swanepoel told The Witness.

Once he had come on board as director of rugby, White made a concerted effort to make club rugby more even in terms of the number of contracted Sharks players featuring in each side.

As an example, this year White took players like current Sharks captain Tera Mtembu and Ryan Kankowski and moved them to Amanzimtoti, who had joined the Premier Division this year. Although they did not feature in all the games, Swanepoel believes such a move was crucial.

“It really showed with Toti as they went on to win the Murray Cup. When he arrived he corresponded with all the teams and told us his plans and structures,” Swanepoel said.

“He didn’t want a lopsided affair in club rugby.”

Subsequently the Premier Division league — the Moor Cup — was well contested by all teams. In the past, the top three or four clubs have run away from the pack. “We [Collegians] didn’t know if we had won the league until the second last week and that is testament to his structures,” he said.

Players like Sharks fullback Jaco van Tonder made great contributions to Pietermatizburg Collegians this year and Swanepoel believes club rugby players appreciate having big name players in their teams.

“The Sharks players give a lot of input to the sides when they are there. When guys like Ryan and Tera play, the club guys will sit back when they are older and say I remember playing with those guys from the Sharks,” he said.

All sentiments aside, Swanepoel is adamant that White’s work was in the right direction.

“I think it is sad news for KZN rugby. I do not have a single bad thing to say about Jake. He made the league very competitive, which benefits everyone.”

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