Bulls coach White says there must be a relook at long overseas URC tours

Bulls coach Jake White during the United Rugby Championship match against Edinburgh at DAM Health Stadium on Friday.
Bulls coach Jake White during the United Rugby Championship match against Edinburgh at DAM Health Stadium on Friday.
Image: Malcolm Mackenzie/ ProSports/ Shutterstock

Bulls coach Jake White is satisfied with a return of two wins from four matches during their United Rugby Championship (URC) tour of Europe, but he is adamant being away from home for that long takes its toll on the players.

The Bulls managed wins over Parma and Cardiff but lost to Ulster and Edinburgh — and the vastly experienced White says there must be discussions about this issue because it benefits the home teams more.

Their tour ended on a sour note as they lost 31-22 to Edinburgh on Friday night in a match where co-captain Marcel Coetzee was red-carded after 41 minutes and Cameron Hanekom sent to the sin bin two minutes later.

“I keep on reminding you that it is four weeks on tour and we are going to have to look and see whether this is the way we want to keep it going forward,” White said after the match.

“I think this is a massive advantage for the home teams when South African side are away for four weeks. One of the reasons we had to leave Super Rugby was we wouldn’t have to be away from home for a month. 

“I am sure that we will have to look at that because you can see what sort of toll it takes on the team. Four weeks away from home is tough.

“I was chatting to some of the local coaches here and some teams when they play in Italy they fly in and out on the same day. Some teams travel from Edinburgh in Scotland to Wales and they fly the same day, it’s almost like going to Cape Town [from Gauteng] and back on the same day.

“I don’t think people appreciate how tough it is for South African sides to be away for four weeks with the reduced number of players. With a reduced squad, you can’t have the same training sessions, [with] rotation at training.” 

Asked to reflect on the tour, White said it was satisfactory but he hoped for better.

“If you want to be a great side, you must make sure that you win all the games — and that is what we are trying to create at the Bulls. I am not saying that we are happy with 10 points on the tour. It is tough to tour for four weeks.” 

Looking back at the loss to Edinburgh, White complimented his players despite the result. 

“We played with 13 men for 10 minutes, we with 14 men played 40 minutes — and if you do that, you make it hard for yourself. There were times where we were really good, we stayed in the game and with four minutes go to we still had a chance to win the game. 

“With three minutes left we lost a line-up in their 22 and who knows, we could have scored and won the game. I can’t be disappointed with the effort and the spirit of the group. 

“We all know how tough it is to be on tour for four weeks. We just have to regroup now and go back home and focus on another tough game next week.”

On Coetzee’s red card, White said they will make representations to the disciplinary hearing.

“I would like to have the review panel and see what we can do but if the laws are like that and those are the protocols, we just have to make sure that we are not caught on the wrong side of those protocols. 

“We will have a disciplinary hearing and we will have a look at all the factors and hopefully common sense will prevail, but we will argue our case.” 

The Bulls, who are third on the log with 15 points from five matches, are back on familiar surroundings of Loftus in Pretoria on Saturday where they take on Connacht.


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