Jake v Div battle: There's no extra spice to this game, says Bulls mentor

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Jake White during the Currie Cup final between Bulls and Sharks.
Jake White during the Currie Cup final between Bulls and Sharks.
(Lee Warren/Gallo Images)
  • Bulls mentor Jake White says there's no extra spice to his team's weekend meeting with Eastern Province just because his Springbok successor Peter de Villiers is coaching them.
  • De Villiers harbours similar feelings, noting that his charges are merely preparing for "another game".
  • Both men feel a sense of duty to put up a spectacle that's in the broader interest of the local game.

It's been dubbed the battle of ex-Springbok coaches, but Jake White is emphatic there's no added context when his Bulls meet Peter de Villiers' Eastern Province Elephants in a preparation series match at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday.

The Bulls director of rugby, 2007's World Cup-winning Bok mentor, was replaced by De Villiers as national coach the following year, who built on that platform by beating the British & Irish Lions as well as claiming a Tri-Nations title in 2009.

Yet both men have long moved on from being sucked into such hype.



15 David Kriel, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Marnus Potgieter, 12 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 11 Stravino Jacobs, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 WJ Steenkamp, 7 Tim Agaba, 6 Nizaam Carr (captain), 5 Janko Swanepoel, 4 Jan Uys, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Joe van Zyl, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp

Substitutes: 16 Janco Uys, 17 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 18 Gerhard van der Merwe, 19 Raynard Roets, 20 Uzile Tele, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Jandre Burger, 23 Diego Appollis

Eastern Province Elephants

15 Riaan Arendse, 14 Josiah Twum-Boafo, 13 Christopher Hollis, 12 Sherwin Slater, 11 Qeuntyne Oerson, 10 Inny Radebe (captain), 9 Luvo Claasen, 8 Luigi van Jaarsveld, 7 Anele Lungisa, 6 CJ Velleman, 5 Mncedisi Diwegu, 4 Athenkosi Manele, 3 Lupumlo Mguca, 2 Robin Stevens, 1 Lyle Lombard

Substitutes: 16 Sithembiso Befile, 17 Siyakubonga Nzuzo, 18 Emile Klaasen, 19 Ronald Sceckle, 20 Arnold Kleyne, 21 Diego Williams, 22 Josh Allderman, 23 Keanu Vers  

"There's no spice to this game," White said rather phlegmatically on Friday.

"Yeah, we're former Springbok coaches but that's it. I don't know, I've never really had that much to do with Peter (when he became national coach), I've been living overseas for a long time. 

"He's a good, experienced coach and I'm pretty sure he's going to get his guys up for this match. There'll be lots of energy."

In fact, the Bulls - who announced a team with a decent mixture of youth and experience - are far more keen to deal with the "interesting" challenge that an unknown opponent brings.

"It's quite exciting for us because we simply don't know what to expect," said White.

"To be fair, everyone's under the impression that the EP team is made up of club guys and they haven't played much, but there are a couple of players there who are going to see this as a massive opportunity to put themselves on the stage."

Unsurprisingly for a man who's experienced the rigours of international rugby, De Villiers too is chilled over facing the Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup champions as his charges' baptism.

"For me it's another game, whether it's international, club or provincial rugby," he said.

"We never prepare for teams, we always prepare for games. Every game for us is very important, so we will do our best and tick all the boxes."

There's also a distinct sense of duty from White and De Villiers to put up a spectacle that's in the broader interest of the local game.

"We would love to help South African rugby to prepare for the bigger scene (like the Rainbow Cup and PRO16)," said the Elephants mentor.

"This series is called different names, from preparation series to friendlies. I don't know, maybe it's a comfort thing. But when you're on that field, none of those things exists. It's flesh against flesh and mind against mind. I don't buy into those little things.

"We're just prepared to be the best when we take the field."

Ever the traditionalist, White hopes the fixture can lay the foundation for the re-kindling of a rich history between the two unions.

"This is the old Northern Transvaal versus Eastern Province. I've read how (EP skipper) Inny Radebe wants to re-establish the brand and I'm so grateful for that," he said.

"It's important for South African rugby. We want to be a small part of that mission."

Kick-off at Loftus is at 15:00 on Sunday.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
40% - 14076 votes
13% - 4369 votes
19% - 6544 votes
3% - 902 votes
1% - 340 votes
2% - 809 votes
5% - 1762 votes
9% - 2971 votes
3% - 1218 votes
Water sports
1% - 320 votes
American sports
1% - 433 votes
3% - 1167 votes