MaCinJay’s Musings

another case of inverse vandalism

Jake tells it “In Black and White”

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I borrowed a copy of Jake White’s autobiography from a colleague to read during my second week in Boswana. It’s an engrossing book with one underlying theme: his boundless passion for the game of rugby, from his schooldays as a player to his crowning achievement as coach of the World Cup Champions. White’s account lays bare his stormy relationship with the South Africa Rugby Union and sheds light on the Luke Watson affair.

According to White the Watson family approached him via an intermediary to pick the Stormers captain in his squad in return for his survival as Springbok coach. Fearful of losing his position on the cusp of taking his team to the World Cup, White eventually accepted the offer only for the Watson family to then withdraw it. As previously related White subsequently came under pressure from SAFU to select Watson, which led to the subsequent inclusion of the player against the coach’s will.

Less controversial perhaps, but no less fascinating, is White’s account of his time as technical analyst to former coach Nick Mallett’s Springbok side, which culminated in his axing from the position after a fall-out with assistant coach Alan Solomons over selection policy. Interestingly, a similar fate befell White after he was appointed as assistant to Harry Viljoen (who replaced Mallett as Bok coach) following a stint with Natal.

White’s sense of redemption is palpable in the chapter dealing with the World Cup victory, which I’m sure will not be diminished in any way by the surprise loss to the Barbarians in his last game in charge. The book does end on a sour note though, understandably so considering his casual mistreatment at the hands of SAFU.

Goodbye Jake, you will be missed.


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