Mallett on Jake crisis

Renegotiating coaching contracts is always a frustrating process, according to WP director of rugby Nick Mallett.

“Saru has been criticised for not immediately extending White’s contract to ensure he coached the side until the 2009 Lions series,” Mallett told keo.co.za. “However, I understand the position of the governing body. A lot of rugby must still be played between now and the end of the World Cup, and they probably want to see how the team performs before offering White a new contract.”

Mallett said he was a bit surprised that White had brought up the issue of an extension now, 14 months before the World Cup.

“I was appointed Springbok coach in 1997 with a two-year contract that would take me to the end of the 1999 World Cup. I started negotiating a new contract only two months before the tournament began.

“In White’s defence, he is concerned about his future and that of his players. I’ve heard that 13 or 14 current Springboks already have overseas contracts for after the World Cup. Should White continue as coach of the Boks in 2008, he would want to keep as many of his players as possible, and if the players know he’s sticking around, they might just stay on.”

Mallett believes that the problem with negotiating coaching contracts in this country is that not one single person can make a decision, as is done in conventional business. White approached Saru president Regan Hoskins to discuss the extension of his contract only for the board to refer the decision to the president’s council.

“It’s a very slow-moving, often frustrating process,” admitted Mallett.

According to reports, White wants his new Bok contract not to include a performance clause, something Mallett agrees with to some extent.

“I believe a performance cause would not benefit a Bok coach or Saru, simply because of the unique challenges in South African rugby. Many people say that there is no quota system but that teams are expected to be mixed. It’s probably unfair to tell a coach that he must win a certain percentage of his Tests when he cannot always select the team he wants.

“Jake might also say it’s unfair to have a performance clause in his contract when he’s trying to give 30 players enough Test experience before the World Cup. Why should he field an experimental side in the Tri-Nations if he will be penalised when the team loses?

“However, I think it’s not unreasonable to expect White to win at least 50% of his matches against the top four (New Zealand, Australia, France and England) and 75% of his matches against the rest.

“Ultimately, the coach and board must debate the issue and come up with a performance clause that satisfies both parties.”

By Simon Borchardt