When the Boks meet Argentina across the pond in Salta on August 26, they will wear a special red kit.
According to SARU, the colour was chosen to “commemorate the 25th year of rugby unity in South Africa”, as red is part of the South African flag.
Cool story, but I’ll tell you who’s not buying it – Jake White.
The World Cup-winning coach wrote a column for All Out Rugby, and true to form he didn’t mince his words. Calling the decision a sell out, he went on the offensive right from the opening whistle:
The Springboks are going to play a Test in a red jersey. Doc Craven must be turning in his grave. Everything he warned about money changing rugby if it went professional is coming true.
I read in the paper that the red jersey is to celebrate 25 years of rugby unity. That’s rubbish, it’s a marketing tool to sell more jerseys.
If we can’t sell the green and gold jersey, and we need to turn it red to sell it, then we’ve got a serious problem.
A decade after being number one in the world, we’re changing the colour of our jersey. The question is why? And who is responsible for that slide?
That’s how the column started, and he wasn’t close to done:
If the Springboks can’t sell a green and gold jersey, then maybe we need to look at the rugby results we’re selling and not the colour of the jersey. The way to sell more jerseys is by getting the rugby right.
The All Blacks haven’t changed the colour of their jersey, and neither have FC Barcelona. Imagine if Manchester United decided to make their home jersey green?
When you’re a coach at the coalface of professional rugby, you’re selling the dream of playing in a jersey to players. To an administrator, changing the colour doesn’t seem like a big thing, but to a coach it’s a huge thing because you’re changing that dream.
As for that once-off vibe – he ain’t buying that, either:
People will say “it’s only for one game”, but it isn’t. Where does it stop? Next we’ll be making exceptions so a guy can play for South Africa with a ponytail.
Halt – you’re not allowed to play if you have a ponytail? What about a man bun? What about that fluff on Elton Jantjies’ chin? Where do we draw the line, Jake?
Anyway, back to his rant:
It’s never “just one time”, it’s the start of a slippery slope.
It amazes me that people don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying the change is to sell more jerseys. That’s an admission that we need to change the jersey colour because we need to raise money.
Isn’t that the same as when the media says a coach has lost the change room? How come an administrator never loses the support of the public?
As long as the Boks give us an excuse to start drinking early on a Saturday, and you can bet the upcoming Rugby Championship will provide ample reason to do so, the public is going to carry on watching.
We would all love to see public administrators held accountable, but most South Africans gave up on that dream a while back.
He finishes with a reference to our other World Cup-winning coach, the late great Kitch Christie:
Kitch Christie is one of the greatest coaches in Springbok history. He played Mark Andrews at No 8 in the 1995 World Cup final, and if they’d lost, he would never have been remembered as one of the greats, because coaches are measured on results.
Shouldn’t it be the same for rugby’s administrators?
Something to think about.
If you were holding onto a shred of hope that Jake might ever coach the Springboks again, you can bin that right now.
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