Super Rugby: Jake White In Shock Brumbies Exit
by Paul Cook –
A little under two months ago, Jake White led the ACT Brumbies to their first Super Rugby final in nine years. They would eventually lose to the reigning champions, the Chiefs, but their mere presence at the big dance was a remarkable achievement considering the dire position they were in when White took the helm almost two years prior.
With a young team including a host of recently anointed Wallabies, the future for the men from Canberra looked particularly bright. So it is something of a shock to learn tonight that White has asked for, and been granted, an early release from his contract.
Early indications as to exactly why are sketchy but the media grapevine has already offered up a host of potential theories ranging from disillusionment with Australian rugby after losing out on the Wallaby coaching role to Ewen McKenzie, to the rumours of a return to his native South Africa and a coaching gig with either the Stormers or the Sharks.
There has been no official communique from the Brumbies themselves other than an ambiguous tweet from CEO Andrew Fagan which read – “It’s true – Jake White sought a contract release for personal reasons. It’s disappointing but we understand. Stay tuned 4 more info tomorrow.”
Whatever the reasons, the departure of White will send shockwaves around the Brumbies franchise and their supporters. With two years remaining on his contract and with the recruitment and retention for the 2014 season pretty much in place, filling his shoes will be a tall order for anyone.
He led ACT to 22 wins and two draws in his 35 matches in charge, missing out on the finals by a point in 2012 before topping the Australian conference this year and rolling the Cheetahs and the Bulls in the knockout stages on their way to this year’s final. He also masterminded the historic victory over the visiting British & Irish Lions back in June, a night that will live long in the memory for those frozen souls who were there to witness it.
His tenure has seen the progression of Ben Mowen from a fine Super Rugby player into a fine leader and now a Wallaby, alongside the emergence of fledgling talents such as Christian Leali’ifano, Matt Toomua, Nic White, Jesse Mogg, Scott Sio, Tevita Kuridrani and Henry Speight. He has also helped re-establish Peter Kimlin as an international option and overseen Scott Fardy’s sensational rise from a stint in Japanese rugby to a place in the current Wallaby back row.
It is believed that White, currently back in his homeland, spoke to Mowen – also in the Republic preparing for the crucial clash between the Wallabies and the Springboks – earlier today and that the Brumby captain tried to talk his mentor around but to no avail.
More information will no doubt come to light over the next few days but for the Brumbies, the search for a new coach must already begin.