Jake White chats with Blues counterpart Dai Young. (Photo by Chris Fairweather/Gallo Images)
- Bulls mentor Jake White believes SA’s successful weekend in the URC will kick-start the credibility of the new tournament.
- The South African teams were punching bags to an extent the first two weeks, but now seem to have found their feet.
- White also believes the way the Bulls varied their game against the Blues is the template he wants to follow consistently.
Always a man willing to promote the virtues of South African rugby in general, Bulls mentor Jake White believes the local franchises have finally added their touch of “credibility” to the United Rugby Championship (URC).
After a poor first two rounds of results, the men from Africa found their feet in this past weekend’s action – the Bulls and Sharks delivering sterling second half performances to beat the Cardiff Blues and Ospreys respectively, while the Stormers drew with Edinburgh.
The Lions admitted themselves that they were “gutted” with a 13-9 loss to Glasgow.
“Two wins, a draw and a losing bonus point is going to be massive for everybody. It gives credibility to the competition,” said White.
“Take nothing away from the Cheetahs and Kings, but you want to come into this new tournament and make sure that there’s competitiveness and credibility from the start.
“You want to get fans on board with his new venture and we’ve already seen in the media that the URC already has incredible numbers and that viewership is through the roof. We don’t want to lose and lose and lose what could be a growing fan-base at the end of the season.
“This is healthy.”
From a Bulls perspective, their ultimately comfortable 29-19 win – after trailing 16-3 at half-time – was validation that a power-packed, gifted squad remains very much on course.
“We were 13-0 down. What more can you ask for on what the players ultimately did,” said White.
“They were resilient. They stuck in there and everyone fronted up. People asked about fitness in the build-up. I think this performance puts those questions to bed.
“To go and score all those points in the second half, attests to our conditioning.”
While Chris Smith’s unerring boot – he replaced the injured Johan Goosen – suggested the Bulls reverted to a more pragmatic style of play, White reasonably countered that a team can’t be accused of playing tighter when a winger – Kurt-Lee Arendse – walks away with the Man-of-the-Match award.
“There’s been a lot of talk about our style. We’ve worked really hard as a coaching group to develop a different style of Bulls play that people aren’t expecting,” he said.
“We didn’t go conservative at all. We at times played with a lot of width. We’ve really changed up our attack well with the forwards and backs.
“The way we played here is the way we always want to play. There was a great balance.”
The Bulls’ final encounter on tour is against Edinburgh on Saturday.