Jake White: The Rugby World Cup winner who has led Bulls to brink of URC glory

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Fifteen years may have passed since Jake White guided South Africa to Rugby World Cup glory, but the Bulls are now reaping the benefits of their Director of Rugby’s vast experience in the game.

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White was at the helm as the Springboks lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2007 – a triumph that arrived relatively early in his career as a senior head coach.

The former PE teacher had been in charge since 2004 but this was his first high-profile job, having earlier led the country’s under-21s to a World Cup triumph of their own.

He also served as a technical advisor to the Springboks during Nick Mallett’s tenure, as well as working as an assistant with the national team.

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Jake White’s time in charge also saw South Africa win the Tri-Nations and climb from sixth to top of the world rankings. He was crowned Coach of the Year on two occasions and inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame.

Jake White also worked with the IRB

When he departed the Boks following their World Cup win, which was sealed with a 15-6 victory over defending champions England in Paris, White was still only 43 years old – a relative youngster in coaching terms.

White worked with the International Rugby Board from 2008 to 2012 before returning to coaching with the Brumbies.

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During his time in Australia, the Brumbies overcame the Bulls in a Super Rugby semi-final in Pretoria in what White described as the Canberra outfit’s “greatest” win while they also achieved a memorable victory over the touring British and Irish Lions.

Jake White spent a season in charge of the Sharks in 2014, guiding the Durban outfit to the Super Rugby semi-finals, before a stint on the staff with Tonga.

His three years at French club Montpellier yielded an EPCR Challenge Cup trophy, beating Harlequins in the 2016 final, before his globe-trotting career took him to Japan for a similar-length stint in charge of Toyota Verblitz.

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The Bulls came calling in 2020 and, upon his appointment, White highlighted the need to “rebuild a winning culture at Loftus”.

He has since overseen back-to-back Currie Cup triumphs as well as guiding the Bulls to victory in Super Rugby Unlocked in 2020.

Saturday’s United Rugby Championship (URC) final against the Stormers marks an opportunity to land the biggest title of his Bulls tenure to date and White says he has never stopped learning despite his early successes as a head coach.

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“I’ve coached a long time now, so you learn a couple of those things,” he said when praised for his team’s ingenuity in their semi-final victory at Leinster.

“I’ve coached in Japan, coached in France and coached at the Brumbies, so I think (I’ve learned) along the way.

“One of the things we worked hard on is that probably the Bulls were well known for certain areas of the game which we do well but if you can tweak it and bring a couple of new things in it obviously adds a little bit of a dimension to our game.”

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White is among an exclusive band of coaches who have lifted rugby’s biggest prize but his hunger to win remains undiminished as he bids to lead the Bulls to the inaugural URC title.

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