Jake White: Experience is key in coaching

Jake White won the U21 World Cup with South Africa before triumphing at the 2007 RWC

Jake White won the U21 World Cup with South Africa before triumphing at the 2007 RWC

FORMER Springboks coach Jake White says too many organisations underestimate the importance of experience in coaching.

White, 54, believes too many of South Africa’s Super Rugby franchises have appointed inexperienced coaches - and are suffering as a result.

“Coaching is a tough gig,” he wrote in his column for All Out Rugby. “It’s a results-driven business, and that’s why you need a clear pathway and an auditing system to ensure coaches are groomed for high-pressure positions, so that they’re ready for the challenge.

“It’s all part of getting experience. If you don’t have it, it becomes hit-and-miss. That’s the intellectual property that is missing in South Africa.

“Where we get it wrong in South Africa is that we think the coaching ‘brainstrust’ is all about the Xs and Os of rugby – the technical differences between a tighthead prop and a loosehead prop, when to kick and how to attack. It’s actually got much more to do with experience than people think.

“Fundamentally, there’s something flawed about our coaching structures.”

White won the Rugby World Cup with South Africa in 2007, having led the country’s Under-21 side to glory in their own World Cup in 2002.

He explained: “I started coaching in 1982. By 1997, I was with the Lions as a fitness trainer, and the time I spent there helped me to understand what Super Rugby is like in New Zealand.

“Before I became a Super Rugby coach, I’d coached the Springboks, the SA U21s, I’d been an assistant coach, a fitness trainer and a schoolmaster for 10 years.

“When I coached the Brumbies and Sharks, we won the Super Rugby conference three times in a row and the Brumbies set the record for most consecutive away wins. That doesn’t mean I got it right every time – we lost in the semi-finals – but I could always revert back to what I had experienced as a coach.

“As things stand, you could probably pick a coaching staff in SA made up of long-time schoolmasters who have been coaching 1st XVs for 15 years that could handle the pressures better than the guys we’ve got in Super Rugby now.”

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