Jake White's bizarre stab at referee Brace after URC heartache: 'We were probably never in it'

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Andrew Brace. (Photo by Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images)
Andrew Brace. (Photo by Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images)
  • Without saying anything negative about him, Bulls mentor Jake White made it clear that his team was undermined by referee Andrew Brace in the URC final.
  • Labelling his performance as "outstanding", White intimated the officiating at the breakdown and off-side line on defence was faulty. 
  • But he did acknowledge that the Bulls could've capitalised more on a dominant first half.

In a vintage display of innuendo, a visibly emotional Bulls mentor Jake White intimated his displeasure at the performance of Andrew Brace without actually criticising the United Rugby Championship (URC) final's referee.

In fact, the franchise's director of rugby believes his charges stood no chance of reversing their 18-13 defeat at the Cape Town Stadium no matter what they threw at the Stormers.

"It is what it is. I don't think we were ever going to win that game," said White.

"I thought the referee was outstanding, he saw what he saw and we couldn't control the other things."

Pressed on how crucial the yellow card of outside centre Cornal Hendricks for a shoulder-high hit on counterpart Ruhan Nel in the 56th minute was, White dismissed its significance, ostensibly because that decision proved the least of the Bulls' problems in hindsight.

READ | Gutsy Stormers break their curse, claim URC title after fairy tale season

"I don't want to get into the whole thing. I'm just telling you, there are things tonight that we couldn't control and we're never going to control them.

"I told the players to keep their heads up and when those things change, we'll be okay. The referee was outstanding, you mustn't misquote me.

"What he saw, he blew. I'm happy. I can never argue with that. If you see it, blow it. No problem."

To be fair, White and his coaching staff had reason to feel miffed, especially at the breakdowns, where the influential Deon Fourie was - at times - questionably allowed free reign.

There's an argument to be made that the Bulls probably could've got stuck in more to paint the type of picture they clearly felt Brace was seeing though the rugby ethics of that would've been questionable.

"Right before half-time they got into our half and got a penalty for off-side. We got into their half about six times and never got a penalty for off-side. You can't control those things. It's up to the referee," said White.

"There were a couple of times they went for the ball, missed it, came back and got it again and got rewarded. And if the referee sees it like that, that's great. The other things we can't control, we'll never control it. If we control them, we'll win. But we can't." 

AS IT HAPPENED | Stormers 18-13 Bulls

Unsurprisingly, White's words on Fourie were limited.

"To be fair, I didn't even watch that contest. He's a good player, but Elrigh Louw and Arno Botha played well too.

"As a coach, you don't really look at other players in a game like this. You just look at your own team. I don't want to sound like a whiner because I need to teach my players to be humble in defeat. But it really hurts," he said.

He did, however, concede that the Bulls' dominance in the first half should've translated into something more tangible.

"We had our chances. From a rugby point of view, I can't complain. We had enough chances in the first half to finish off the game. I'm not saying win it, but finish things off."   

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