Super Rugby

New Bulls chief Rathbone can't wait to learn from Jake

Edgar Rathbone, the Bulls' incoming chief executive, is undaunted by the prospect of having to manage Jake White, renowned for his hardnosed but highly successful methods.

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The youthful chartered accountant was officially unveiled on Friday as he swops Ellis Park, where he's the managing director of the stadium as well as the Lions' commercial manager, for Loftus.

"We're talking about personalities and perceptions here," Rathbone told Sport24.

"I personally haven't met Jake yet, but I'm sure we'll have a meeting in the next few weeks. What I do know about him is that he's a coach who continually tastes success, a serial winner. There's a reason why he's been inducted into World Rugby's Hall of Fame (in 2011).

"I can't wait to start working with him because I believe I can really learn a lot from him."

He chuckles when asked what seems to attract him to working at local franchises owned by some of South Africa's most prominent businessmen.

In Doornfontein, Rathbone has been mentored by Altmann Allers, the owner of Glasfit among other interests, who's been the Lions' majority shareholder since late 2011.

From 1 June, when his new role commences, he'll be rubbing shoulders with representatives of Johann Rupert and Patrice Motsepe, who both own equal stakes in the Blue Bulls Company (BBCo).

"Sheesh, I don't know. You'd probably have go ask those three titans!," the genial Rathbone said jokingly.

"But it's a major privilege to be exposed to the ideas and insights from these men. Altmann is a very strong majority shareholder. He adopts a very pragmatic and business-centred approach to the Lions. He's been instrumental in my career.

"And in my negotiations with the BBCo I've dealt with fantastic board members such as Johan van Zyl, Pieter Uys and Stefan Crouse."

While he's not denying the allure of a "wonderful" opportunity, the former Matie sincerely hopes his perceived defection won't be dogged by provincialism.

"This move has and never will be a Bulls vs Lions issue. I truly did have to agonise over this decision, it was anything but easy," said Rathbone. 

"I'm going to do my utmost best to conclude things properly at Ellis Park and then I'll invest all my energy into this new project."     

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