Respect, honesty and dignity are among the values of the Springbok squad over the last four years. Given recent press statements indicating why I was not considered for the national coaching role next year I felt obliged to clarify a few points, so as to ensure the Springboks’ incredible success at the World Cup is not tarnished with misinformation or inaccuracy regarding my situation.
The match against the Barbarians at Twickenham will be my last one as Springbok coach and I want to publicly thank the 72 players I have been privileged to be associated with in the last four years. The selectors and I capped 28 new Springboks in 53 Tests and to award a new player his Bok cap is among any Bok coach’s career highlights.
I’ve also had a wonderful support team within the management, most of who started with me four years ago and finished with a World Cup winners medal. I will thank them personally for their contribution when the team gets together and my hope is the decision-makers in South African rugby realize how talented these individuals are and look after them in a way befitting of the sacrifice they have made for South African rugby.
Personally, I am extremely disappointed at the manner in which the message of my supposed unavailability was conveyed to the public on Monday in a South African Rugby Union media release that stated I would not be considered for the job on the basis that I did not apply.
My contract as Springbok coach is clear that I was not obliged to apply and that all considerations would be discussed at my annual review. I did ask for time to consider my options as I was mindful of making a wrong decision based on emotion. This time was not afforded me and that is particularly disappointing.
The purpose of this statement is to put on record my passion for rugby in this country and for the Springboks. Hopefully it will also put an end to all the speculation regarding my perceived motives to stay or go.
For the record: It was the greatest honour to coach the Boks and no one can ever take away the memory of those four years. When I got the job I promised to instill and promote those values I believe should always be consistent with Springbok rugby. In 2004 the Boks were ranked sixth in the world and emotionally we were at a low after the disasters of 2003. I maintained at the time we had good enough players to win the World Cup. In those four years the Springboks won the Tri Nations, won the World Cup, won two International Player of the Year awards, two Coach of the Year awards and twice were recognized by the IRB as the team of the year. In that time we also beat every team on at least one occasion. To those players I want to say thank you. To the support staff an equal thank you.
Not only have you won the World Cup, but you have restored respect for the Bok jersey and you have honoured those values every young boy in this country should aspire to want to live.
I walk away with no regrets, but with plenty of sadness.
This is a time to thank people and from a rugby perspective I can’t emphasise enough the contribution of Eddie Jones in the last two months. The Bok team sponsor SASOL was huge in its contribution, on a personal level and in whatever the squad needs were. So too the input of the other rugby sponsors Vodacom, British Airways, Southern Sun and Absa.
Former President Nelson Mandela was a constant source of inspiration and President Thabo Mbeki was as inspirational in how he connected with the squad. I agree with President Mbeki when he says John Smit for president. We as South Africans have a special son in Smittie and let’s celebrate the qualities of the man.
Finally, to my family, to Deb and the boys I would never be able to thank you enough for allowing me to pursue my dream.
The next guy will need everyone’s support because as wonderful as it is to coach South Africa, it can be particularly lonely at times.
I wish him all the best.
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On eTV last night White was interviewed on 3rd Degree, but more telling was what was said on the news, that White had never submitted an application and had apparently missed a deadline. Appealing on us to focus on these technicalities demonstrates a lack of...what is it...transparency and the shrouding of darker motivations.