Incoming Vodacom Bulls CEO Edgar Rathbone says while Jake White’s job will focus around on-field success, his role is to ensure it can be achieved within budgets. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
It is an uncertain time in the game, and the Bulls are also currently undergoing a considerable restructuring phase, with White coming in as the new director of rugby and effectively head coach, while Rathbone will start as the new CEO on 1 June.
And although several players have been confirmed to be leaving South African rugby after a 21-day exit window closed this past week, the Bulls have in fact been on a steady recruitment drive, with former Springboks such as Gio Aplon and Arno Botha already confirmed to be on their way to Loftus.
In many respects, it is an exciting time at the Bulls, with president Willem Strauss having expressed a clear plan that aims to see the franchise rediscover its golden years.
In an exclusive Zoom chat with SARugbymag.co.za recently, Rathbone outlined his mandate in this turnaround plan.
‘I’ve had a few chats to Jake already, I think it’s a fantastic appointment. Jake’s job is coaching the team and winning trophies, my job is to ensure we do it within budgets and an office that operates at 100%.
‘We definitely need to work together and dovetail, Jake’s will obviously specialise on all the on-field stuff, but my job is to make harmony between the team, the office, union, SA Rugby and our commercial partners.’
As part of an industry-wide rescue plan to combat the impact of Covid-19, there are several considerable measures put in place to survive this unexpected challenge.
‘It is a time when the SA rugby industry as a whole needs to stand together,’ Rathbone commented, ‘and that’s where the collective agreement comes in where everyone agreed on a strategy going forward, which is to save the industry as a whole going forward.
‘There are challenges, and the biggest one during this time is the uncertainty … But as soon as we have some more clarity and are able to get back on the park, I think we’ll be able get things back on track.’
The Bulls have also benefited from some financial stability as a result of last year’s significant announcement that billionaires Patrice Motsepe and Johann Rupert (via Remgro) had come in as equal majority shareholders of the Blue Bulls company (37% each).
‘What it’s given the Bulls is a fantastic board, there are strong businessmen who have a clear vision where they want to take the business,’ Rathbone added. ‘Jake has a clear vision of where he wants to go, he is a serial winner and has won everywhere he has gone. That’s obviously what you look for in a coach. My interactions with him have been great so far, and now we’re just looking forward to continuing that when he can get to Pretoria.’