Examining Jake White's record

Jake White (Gallo Images)
Jake White (Gallo Images)
What an interesting debate! I do see both points that were made, but would like to share some of my own thoughts.

Let’s look at the international point of view first. Yes, the statistics might be below expectations, but we must remember that White started Springbok-coach with a four-year plan in mind. His aim from the start was to win the 2007 World Cup as regardless of how he managed to achieve it or how poor the opposition was in the final, he reached his goal. Also bear in mind that (in 2007 especially) he often experimented with emerging players and in doing so kept his best players fresh for the World Cup. It was also no surprise that very little changes were made by PdV in 2008 and we then managed to win Tri-Nations. In 2009 we won the Lions tour also with few changes being made (Mornè Steyn were probably the best fresh player in PdV’s reign) to the team who won us the 2007 WC. By 2011, however, our team was too old and PdV did not achieve success at that World Cup. So in my opinion, much of PdV’s achievements were thanks to Jake White.

Now onto Super Rugby... White took over the coaching duties at the Brumbies after a disappointing 2011 season for the Canberra men who won a woeful 4 from 16 games and managing 1 draw. Their 13th place on the log was also not doing their pride any good. At the time there were no players who you can really describe as “world-class”. Everybody hoped White would achieve success, but surely no-one could have expected what a sudden turnaround he would provide to a struggling franchise. In 2012 the Brumbies led the Australian conference right up until the very last round-robin round when they were rather unexpectedly beaten at home by the Blues. Nevertheless they ended in 7th place winning an impressive 10 from 16 games. In 2013 they did even better. They quite comfortably topped the Australian conference and were rather unlucky not to have ended higher than 3rd place on the overall log (considering draws against the Kings and Reds and an unusual loss to the Force). Even with luck not always on their side, they beat the Cheetahs in Canberra before flying to Pretoria to beat the favoured Bulls. Unfortunately they couldn’t pull through in the end against the Chiefs (who are developing a habit of facing tired teams in the final). The Brumbies played every round (not taking into consideration the byes or the international break) and faced every single team at least once. So in the space of two years Jake White managed to lift the Brumbies from 13th place to losing finalists. That’s not too bad if you ask me. He also developed players like Jesse Mogg, Henry Speight and Nic White and brought back veterans like George Smith and Clyde Rathbone with quite some effectiveness. That is the type of vision he has for pure class – Remember Percy and Butch as veterans and Frans Steyn as a youngster in RWC2007?

The Brumbies (coached by White) in the last two seasons have won a total of 22 from 35 games and managed to draw twice. So they only lost 11 games under White. That is a winning margin of 62.9% for the two seasons. Only 4 of the 11 losses were at home. Against New Zealand teams they won 5 from 9 games (55.6%) and against SA teams they won 6 from 10 games (60%), while against their local teams they won 11 from 16 games (68.75%). So in actual fact you can’t really say they failed in general in any conference.

I will now show how they fared against each team the past two seasons:

• Crusaders - Played once and lost at home. 0% win record.
• Chiefs - Played twice and lost both away. 0% win record.
• Blues - Played twice, lost one at home and won one away. 50% win record.
• Hurricanes - Played twice, won one at home and one away. 100% win record.
• Highlanders - Played twice, won one at home and one away. 100% win record.
• Bulls - Played three times, won one at home, one away and lost one away. 66.7% win record.
• Stormers - Played once and lost away. 0% win record.
• Sharks - Played twice, lost one at home and won one away. 50% record.
• Cheetahs - Played twice and won both at home. 100% win record.
• Kings - Played once and drew at home. 0% win record.
• Lions - Played once and won away. 100% win record.
• Reds - Played four times, won one at home, lost one at home and one away and drew one away. 25% win record.
• Waratahs - Played four times, won two at home and one away and lost one away. 75% win record.
• Force - Played four times, won two at home and one away and lost one away. 75% win record.
• Rebels - Played four times, won two at home and two away. 100% win record.

There is no denying that the Crusaders would have given them a hard time no matter where they met, but other than that I cannot see any other team that would have definitely beaten them on their home ground if ever they were to meet again. Away from home the Brumbies were always going to struggle against teams like the Chiefs and Stormers, whereas the Reds were always going to give them a run for their money (even though I think the Brumbies had the upper hand in 2013 having won one game while drawing the other).

To answer the question on whether Jake White would achieve Super Rugby success with the Sharks, I’d say yes, but give it time. If he becomes head coach for the 2014 season, I don’t see the Sharks lifting the trophy so soon, but they will definitely top the SA conference. I reckon 2016 will be the year for the Sharks as they would only then be on the same level as the Crusaders given Jake White are still involved at the Sharks. I’m also quite excited to see the young talent coming through with White in the driving seat. Patience is of utmost importance and whatever the outcome regarding White, I think the Sharks are heading in the right direction.
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