Super Rugby
Jake White decision 'out of the Blue'
September 26, 2013
Brumbies coach Jake White calls the shots, Hamilton's Rugby Club, Cape Town, South Africa, March 19, 2013
Jake White no longer wants to call the shots in Canberra © Getty Images

Brumbies chief executive Andrew Fagan was shocked and disappointed when Jake White asked for a release from his contract with two years remaining, saying the coach's decision "came out of the blue".

The South African coach arrived in Canberra in 2011, after the Brumbies had finished 13th on the Super Rugby ladder, and he turned the franchise around to reach the Super Rugby final just two months ago and to beat the British & Irish Lions. But Fagan conceded the Australian Rugby Union's decision to overlook White for the Wallabies head coach role in July, in favour of Ewen McKenzie, had affected the South African.

"And that's sort of at the heart of all this," Fagan said on ABC Radio in Canberra. "He missed out on that job and he was extremely disappointed. At the time, when it happened, he was contemplating a release. I had a long chat with him, as did others. He settled back down and recommitted to the club - including expressing that to the board just prior to his vacation [to South Africa].

"Obviously back home, he said he's had a rethink and he said he doesn't feel as though he can progress in international rugby through Australian Super Rugby and the sacrifice of being away from his family who he's very close to. If that carrot's not there, he felt as though that was just too much and his heart wasn't going to be in it.

"I tried to talk him out of it. My chairman spoke with him; [captain] Ben Mowen spoke with him. We tried our best to turn that around. But for those primary reasons, he just said he couldn't make that decision."

The Brumbies' attack coach Stephen Larkham, Brumbies training session, Northwood School, Durban, South Africa, May 3, 2012
Stephen Larkham is considered the front-runner to succeed Jake White © Getty Images

Fagan said the Brumbies had little choice but to grant White a release, saying: "We can't go and kidnap him and drag him back across the ocean and force him to coach".

The executive, meanwhile, all but confirmed that Stephen Larkham or Laurie Fisher would replace White as head coach. Larkham, the Rugby World Cup 2003-winning Wallabies fly-half, is the team's attack coach, while Fisher - who was head coach from 2005-2008, handled the forwards under White.

"So we've got two head coaches in waiting, effectively, and I think it would be unlikely that we would go outside the group - given what significant role they've played in the last two years," Fagan said. "We're not looking for change. We're looking to continue to evolve what's in place and those guys have the most intimate knowledge of that."

Fagan does not expect any players to leave the Brumbies as a result of White's departure. "There are no clauses in contracts that relate to Jake White or any other staff in the organisation. We're not a club who does that."


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