Jake White lauds Boks' Rugby Championship decision: 'It's the best of both worlds'

Jake White
Jake White
  • Jake White, the Bulls' director of rugby and former Springbok coach, has lauded SA Rugby's decision to remain committed to the Rugby Championship as a win-win situation.
  • He believes the differing demands of franchise rugby in Europe while still being exposed to the All Blacks represents the "best of both worlds".
  • White's counterpart for this weekend, Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen, argees, arguing the variety of competition can only benefit the local game.

SA Rugby's decision to keep the Springboks in the Rugby Championship has been endorsed by Bulls director of rugby, Jake White.

As a result, South Africa's players will now be competing in Europe in an expanded PRO16 while still having the opportunity to be exposed to the best rugby in the southern hemisphere can offer, a win-win situation in many observers' books.

"It's the best of both worlds now," White said on Thursday after announcing his side to face the Lions in Super Rugby Unlocked's Jukskei derby at Ellis Park at the weekend.

"We're playing our franchise rugby north and competing against the All Blacks regularly. Despite all the changes from the past few months, we should never doubt the value we derived from playing south.

"Playing against Australasian teams at Super Rugby and international level proved to be an asset to our rugby. We've won two World Cups during the Super Rugby era, so it certainly suggests that it was an alliance that worked."

However, White - who himself has extensive experience of European rugby as the former head coach of French club Montpellier - isn't averse to his burgeoning franchise being exposed to a new challenge against the giants of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy.

"Moving north is good from a mental perspective, the players can spend a bit more time at home with their families due to the competition structure and time zone. It's a different part of the world and perhaps a different challenge for us too," he said.

"But you're still going to have our best players competing against the best in the world in the All Blacks. I really can't be a bad thing when you keep that in mind."

Ivan van Rooyen, White's counterpart for Saturday's clash, agrees.

"I'm not trying to portray myself as an international coach but I've always believed it's a good barometer when you can gauge yourself against the New Zealanders and Australians," he said.

"We know the type of rugby that they play and it's kept our own game quite sharp. Playing north is going to be a different challenge but we're still going to be exposed to the southern hemisphere teams.

"To go and play week-in and week-out in Europe while still playing internationally against two of the best teams in the world is the type of variety our game can benefit from."

While Lions skipper and Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies certainly wouldn't complain about this future arrangement, he nonetheless isn't too preoccupied with the issue.

"I'm a guy that likes certainty. And for now, we have Super Rugby Unlocked and the Currie Cup as certainties. I'm focusing on that currently," he said.  

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