Jake White

Jake White (born 13 December 1963 in Johannesburg as Jacob Westerduin ) is a rugby union coach and former coach of the South Africa national rugby union team, the Springboks. His most notable achievements as coach include leading the Springboks to victory in 2007 Rugby World Cup and the 2004 Tri Nations title. White also coached the the u-21 Springbok side to victory in the U-21 Rugby Union World Cup in 2002.

Coaching resume up to 2004

Jake White attended Jeppe High School where he played in the in the First XV. He began his coaching career as a high school rugby coach at Parktown Boys' High First XV before returning to his old school as a teacher and as coach of the school's First XV. White's success with the school team resulted in him being appointed as provincial schools coach. Later he coached various under-19 and under-21 sides before assisting Springbok squad preparations by doing video analysis for them. By this time he was well known for his technical prowess in rugby circles, and he lived up to his reputation by coaching the under-21 Springbok side to a victory in the U-21 Rugby Union World Cup in 2002.

Springbok coach

White was appointed as head coach of the national team in early 2004 when South African rugby was in turmoil following their poor performance at the 2003 World Cup, the Kamp Staaldraad scandal, numerous internal conflicts within their national federation.


Under White's guidance the Springboks began to slowly win back their respectability in world rugby. In his first games in charge in June 2004, the Springboks beat Ireland in a two-Test home series and Wales during their opponents' tours of the Southern Hemisphere. Next came a win in the most closely-contested Tri Nations in history, winning their first Tri Nations trophy since Nick Mallett and his team achieved the feat in 1998. The Tri-nations was followed by a disappointing Grand Slam tour of the Home Nations in November 2004, when the Springboks lost to both England and Ireland, with victories against Wales and Scotland.

Nevertheless, the Springbok resurgence was honoured with a sweep of the major International Rugby Board awards. The Boks were named Team of the Year, White Coach of the Year, and flanker Schalk Burger Player of the Year. The Springboks ended 2004 having won 69% of the games played that year, and rose two spots to fourth in the IRB's official world rankings. Soon after the 2004 Tri Nations victory, White's contract was extended to after the 2007 Rugby World Cup.


In 2005 White came under fire from many fans because of his loyalty to players that were in the 2004 squad. Instead of choosing "form" players, he chose to stick with players that played well during the 2004 Tri-nations season, but had failed to impress since then. The players didn't perform well at the 2004 end of year tour of Europe but White persisted with his 2004 Tri Nations winning team. The criticism reached its peak after a comprehensive 30–12 defeat to Australia in Sydney in 2005.

Most of White's critics were silenced during the following five weeks. First, the Boks retained the Mandela Challenge Plate by defeating the Wallabies in the return fixture in Johannesburg. One week later at Loftus in Pretoria, the Boks again defeated the Wallabies in the Tri Nations opener. The following week, the All Blacks, fresh off sweeping the British and Irish Lions, came to Newlands in Cape Town, where they had not lost to the Springboks since 1976. The Boks' surprise win over the All Blacks not only put them in pole position to retain the Tri-Nations trophy, but also vaulted them over the Wallabies into second in the world rankings. This would be the only Test that the All Blacks would lose in 2005. Two weeks later the Boks returned to Australia for the home leg of Australia's Tri-Nations campaign, beating them yet again to put White's choices beyond doubt. It was also the first time since 1971 that the Springboks had managed to beat the Wallabies three times in a single year. The Boks would lose in New Zealand to the All Blacks to end their 2005 Tri Nations campaign, but the closeness of the match - the Springboks led 27–24 until New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu scored a try in the 76th minute - largely defused any remaining criticism of White till the end-of-year tour to Europe of 2005.


In 2006, the Springboks had a poor year after they lost most of their home-and-away matches which started with them beating a lowly ranked Scotland by a small margin and a loss at home to France and the World XV but it was their performance at the Tri Nations which showed as to how poorly the Springboks had performed when they were beaten in a record-breaking 49–0 loss to Australia - the biggest losing margin by any Springbok side against the Wallabies, which followed a home loss to the eventual champions, the All Blacks in Pretoria. This prompted probably the loudest calls for White's resignation because they ended at the bottom of the pool with only two wins, and both playing at home. The end of year tour to Europe was not a success either, with an understrength squad losing 32–15 to Ireland and 23-21 in the first test against England at Twickenham. The Boks salvaged some pride to defeat the English 25-14 in the second test.


The 2007 season started promisingly for White, having the scope to draw from a great deal of talent in the wake of a wonderful 2007 Super 14 season for South Africa which culminated in an all-South African final between the Sharks and the Bulls. White chose to draw heavily on these two teams for players to capitalize on their Super 14 success. When the Springboks played a depleted England on 26 May in Bloemfontein, the result was a resounding 58–10 win for the South Africans. The second test on 2 June at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria was a more dogged affair in the first half, with the visitors leading 19–17 at the break. However, a renewed sense of urgency prompted the Boks to regroup and blow away the England side, eventually running out 55–22 winners. South African captain John Smit said after the game that "there is a lot of work to be done. But this year we have got a chance" to challenge for the World Cup .

White made 13 changes to the South African side to face Samoa at Ellis Park on 9 June. The Springboks battled out a 35–8 win over the visitors.

After the Boks’ 15-6 victory against England in the World Cup final, they claimed the No 1 ranking for the first time since rankings were officially introduced in 2003, thus ending the All Blacks’ 40-month stint at the top.


Jake White has stated his interest in coaching the British and Irish Lions against his former Springboks side in 2009.

Springbok coaching record and achievements

By year
Year Played Won Lost Drew Win ratio (%)
2004 13 9 4 69
2005 12 8 3 1 67
2006 12 5 7 42
2007 17 14 3 82
TOTAL 54 36 17 1 67
By Country
Opponent Played Won Lost Drew Win ratio (%)
3 3 100
11 6 5 55
7 5 2 71
1 1 100
4 1 2 1 25
4 2 2 50
1 1 100
9 3 6 33
1 1 100
2 2 100
4 4 100
1 1 100
1 1 100
1 1 100
4 4 100
TOTAL 54 36 17 1 67

Resume and Summary of achievements

Before becoming coach of South Africa:

  • Jeppe Boys High School First XV - Hooker
  • Jeppe Old Boys Under 20 - Hooker
  • Johannesburg College of Education First XV - Hooker
  • 1982-1985 Coached Park Town Boys High First XV
  • 1986-1994 Worked as a Physical Education teacher
  • 1986-1988 Coached 14a, 15a
  • 1989-1994 Coached Jeppe Boys High School First XV.
    • Unbeaten in 1991 and 1994, beating Grey High School 46–0 in his last game as coach.
  • 1995 Attended International Coaching Congress
  • 1995-1997 Director of Coaching for Transvaal Rugby Union
  • Fitness Coach and Technical Adviser for Gauteng Lions in Super 12
  • 1997 National Coaching Congress
  • 2000 Assistant Coach to the Natal Sharks
  • 2000-2001 Springboks Assistant Coach
  • Level 4 coaching certificate

White's notable achievements as Springbok head coach include:

  • Winning the Tri Nations (2004)
  • Winning the World Cup (2007)
  • Taking South Africa from 6th on the IRB World Rankings (2003) to 1st (2007)
  • IRB International Coach of the Year (2004, 2007)
  • Biggest score ever achieved by a Springbok side (134-3 against Uruguay in 2005)
  • First home series win against France since 1975
  • First victory over the All Blacks at Newlands since 1976
  • Consecutive wins against Australia and New Zealand for the first time since 1998
    • Most successful South African team at home in the history of Springbok rugby, undefeated at home in 11 tests (they would extend this streak to 13)
    • First South African team to beat Australia 3 times in the same year since 1971
    • First South African team to beat Australia in Australia since 1998


External links

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