So I watched some Jake White rugby on Friday night – it wasn’t pretty, but effective.
When Montpellier eventually walked off Challenge Cup champs against Harlequins, I was left wondering: What if we thought we had Fish and Chips – read Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit – but our parcel is actually just Salt and Vinegar?
Such was the performance of Paul Willemse, especially, and Jacques du Plessis for White’s Montpellier that after watching the game I was sure the lock duo couldn’t be ignored by national boss Allister Coetzee.
Both are still young men and even if we have Etzebeth, Du Toit and Lood de Jager, surely there’s not a single country in the world that can simply ignore these men.
Willemse was simply spectacular in virtually every department of the game.
But then on Saturday, Du Toit reminded me that in any parcel you can’t have the fish and chips without the salt and vinegar.
The Stormers lock was superb in an otherwise crappy team when they drew to the Sunwolves.
Now I spoke to Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson about a possible northern hemisphere versus southern hemisphere finals match at the end of the season when they were in town a few weeks back.
He had some sort of excuse for why such a match couldn’t take place now.
I liked the idea of a champs versus champs battle, but now I feel scrap that idea.
Instead, I would like to see a Springbok trials match involving the guys overseas and the guys plying their trade over here.
There are not a lot of things I would spend money on. I hardly go to shows even if they are free. But this battle, among the locks especially, is something I would spend a two-bob or five on.
While we’re on the subject of White, this guy can’t stop winning.
But what is even more impressive is how his players follow him to the hilt.
Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis, Francois Steyn, Nic White, Jesse Mogg and Pierre Spies to name but a few have all played under the coach previously and followed him to Montpellier, where he has now won the club its first European trophy and is also currently in the running to win the French Top 14.
Coaches do have their “boys” and it will also be interesting to see who Coetzee will select as his core.
All in all, rugby the Jake White way is not sexy.
He would have been crucified in South Africa for still playing the heavy forward dominated game. But this guy is winning in Europe and doing it the South African way. And for that he deserves kudos.