Noakes comes to White’s defence

Professor Tim Noakes believes firing Jake White now would be the consequence of a system that sets coaches up to fail.

Conservative estimates suggest that it would cost SA Rugby in excess of R20 million to sack White and his management team and the Sunday Times reported that they have information suggesting that either Andre Markgraaff will take over in a caretaker capacity until the World Cup, or Nick Mallett and Rassie Erasmus will come on board to form a panel of excellence, if White is open to the suggestion.

Noakes, a respected sports scientist worldwide and medical consultant to SA Rugby, said the primary reason the Springboks performed poorly on their year-end tour was because they were missing key players, but added that the decision to omit them was a very necessary one.

“White agreed not to take those players on tour under the advice of myself and his medical team,” Noakes told the Sunday Times. “Our argument was that were he to take those players he might well win more matches on the European tour but the long-term consequences of for both those players and for the chances of the Springbok team in the 2007 World Cup would be profound.

“Jake’s decision was ethically the correct one since he subjugated his own selfish needs for those of SA rugby. His decision provides SA with its best chance in the World Cup.

“It’s given some key players the opportunity to complete their careers at a World Cup in good form and not in a state of ignominy, exhaustion and injury as a result of fours years of overplaying,” he added.

Noakes was adamant that the structures that currently exist in SA rugby conspires to ensure that both key players and coaches in the Springbok team have the least chance of success.

“SA rugby also seems structured to ensure that our brightest and best coaches, like Carel du Plessis and Nick Mallett before Jake White, are set up to fail. This is because they are placed in a position for which their youth, their relative inexperience, their training and, most importantly, the support they get from many quarters, are inadequate to ensure that they are successful in international rugby.”

He urged those in power to analyse the cause for Springbok coach’s repeated failure, instead of resorting to the drastic measure of firing the coach.

“Sacking the coach treats the symptom, not the underlying disease. And until the disease is eradicated, SA rugby will never again complete with the more sophisticated rugby nations like New Zealand.”