Mariette Adams and Dylan Jack debate whether or not the Vodacom Bulls should appoint Jake White as their director of rugby?
Adams says yes
Following the abrupt and sudden departure of Alan Zondagh, the Bulls are looking to fill the vacant director of rugby position within its ranks and it has emerged that Jake White is the front-runner to get the all-important job.
Many seem to think White would be an illogical choice for the Bulls, with some even calling his methods outdated. It has also been pointed out that White does not endear himself to either his employers, players or the fans and always departs his job under a cloud heavy with controversy.
But for all that can and will be said about White, one thing cannot be disputed – he knows how to win. Winners have no to business being yes-men. They do what they have to, to win. White is a winner and I think we’ve seen enough to all agree that he is no yes-man. He does what he has to, to win.
It is impossible to argue with White’s record over the last decade and more, having won a World Cup, a Junior World Championship and enjoying reasonable success at school and club/franchise levels in South Africa, Australia and France.
As proven by his track record, White lays the foundation for other managers to build success upon while also delivering silverware, two of the things Bulls sorely need at this point in time.
It is incredibly thoughtless to argue that White could not be a decent successor to Zondagh, when the former has an even greater pedigree than the latter.
Of course the Bulls don’t want – and definitely don’t need – a repeat of the John Mitchell saga. But it is clear that the Bulls are in dire straits and bringing in someone as vastly experienced as White, would not only aid their cause, but also speed up their quest to regain their spot at the top of the South African and southern hemisphere game.
Whether he is in it for the long haul remains to be seen, but in the short term White will look to restore the fear factor for Loftus and if that means stepping out of line or even stepping on some toes, then so be it.
Jack says no
The last thing the Bulls need is a repeat of what happened under John Mitchell. The former All Blacks coach was doing an excellent job in laying a good foundation for success at Loftus and changed the mentality of a franchise that was becoming stale on and off the field.
However, after just one full season in charge, Mitchell left Pretoria to take up a role as an assistant coach under Eddie Jones with the England national team. That left a gap in the Bulls structures which was briefly filled by Alan Zondagh – who did a good job before resigning for personal reasons.
Would White continue the work that Mitchell started? Or would he rip things up and start over? Would he suffer the same frustrations that lead Mitchell to leave for England?
Also, it is worth questioning whether White would be content with working behind the scenes and letting current head coach Pote Human do his job, especially if the Bulls continue to struggle this season.
Of course, Human would take any new ideas that come into the franchise and if someone ideal is available, the Bulls would be silly not to appoint that person to fulfil the director’s role.
However, they do need to very careful and thorough about who they appoint. Their new director has to be someone who can plan for longer-term success, someone with an extensive list of contacts around the world and someone who would be happy to let the head coach do the day-to-day running of the senior team.
It is worth remembering that a director’s job involves more than just being a good or even excellent coach. It involves being a good manager and shrewd negotiator. White’s prowess and knowledge speaks for itself, as does his CV and record as a coach.
However, it is worth keeping in mind that he very rarely spends more than a couple of years at a club. His methods have also come in for criticism as of late, particularly during his rein over the Sharks, where Tendai Mtawarira wrote that he treated the players like schoolboys.
The Bulls need to be wary of that if long-term planning is indeed their goal with this appointment.