Jake White stabbed in the back?

2007-10-17 23:10

Gavin Rich, The Witness

On the eve of the most important Springbok match in the past 12 years, it has been learned that the sham that is the South African rugby administration continues to hover like a spectre in the background.

First SA Rugby advertised Springbok coach Jake White's post on the eve of a World Cup quarter-final, and now it has been learnt that Blue Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer was offered the job more than two months ago and has been speaking to management and playing members of the squad in an attempt to confirm their availability for 2008.

White has met with SA Rugby managing director Jonathan Stones and he told Stones pretty much what he has been spelling out to the media on tour for some time now: he just doesn't believe he can continue working for an administration that has no trust in him and continues to undermine him.

The latest breakdown in the trust between White and his employers was when they advertised his position soon after he had given them a legal letter giving them permission to negotiate with him about an extension to his contract.

At least, that was what White thought. It turned out they used the letter against him by seeing it as permission for them to start negotiating with other coaches.

Waived his right

It is understood that when Stones met White, he told the incredulous coach that he waived his right to be considered first for the job.

White hotly contests this, and feels there has been a breach, but is unlikely to seek legal advice as he has now made it clear that he does not want the job.

While the administrators have brought White's future into the public domain by advertising his job while the World Cup is being played, White has steadfastly refused to be drawn into speculation about his future. But the offer to Meyer is common knowledge within the squad because the prospective new coach is busy assessing what he would be working with if he did take the job.

Political insiders say that SA Rugby chairperson Mpumelelo Tsume backed Meyer as a strategic move to garner support from Afrikaans administrators.

It has also been learnt that Andre Markgraaff, an open enemy of White, was recruited to join the committee that will appoint the next Bok coach.

Did not mince words

He later withdrew from the committee, but the controversial former Bok coach and rugby administrator appears to remain as an ominous, shadowy presence behind the scenes.

White's book Black and White is due out before Christmas. It is understood that he has not minced words in describing the "amateur" administrators who run SA rugby, so even if the relationship between him and his employers was not already beyond repair, it probably would have been in a couple of months.

The Bok players have long been aware that these are the last days of the White era and this knowledge is acting as an additional spur as they look to go out with a flourish by being crowned World Cup champions.

"Jake has been loyal to a lot of the players over a period of four years and they want to repay that loyalty by winning the World Cup for him," said Bok flyhalf Butch James.