White says the end of the season will provide answer to his decision
“We will only measure that by June next year. There was no way the same team could play today after flying 26 hours in economy and only arriving back Monday lunchtime."
Jake White (Head Coach) of the Vodacom Bulls during the United Rugby Championship match between DHL Stormers and Vodacom Bulls at DHL Stadium on December 23, 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images
Bulls coach Jake White said whether he was right or wrong to rest his first-choice players from European Champions Cup action and then they still lost to the Stormers in their United Rugby Championship derby in Cape Town is only going to be decided at the end of the season.
Despite bringing a fresh, best-available team to Cape Town to tackle the defending champions, the Bulls were humbled 37-27, allowing critics to wonder whether it was worth sending the second-stringers to Devon last weekend and being soundly beaten by Exeter Chiefs.
“We have five points from two games in the Champions Cup, both us and the Stormers do,” White pointed out. “The decision had nothing to do about today, it was not a measure of whether I was right or wrong.
“We will only measure that by June next year. There was no way the same team could play today after flying 26 hours in economy and only arriving back Monday lunchtime.
“We’ve lost four times in a row now to the Stormers, but we will see in June when we have three competitions on the go. If I was only concerned with European competition then maybe I would have done things differently.
“But my brief as director of rugby comes from a decision made by the board. Next year’s Currie Cup will be played Wednesday-Saturday-Saturday, which is a helluva ask. Plus we only have eight training days in January because of the travel,” White said.
The former Springbok coach said the naivety of his team was a concern, putting it down to inexperience.
“It didn’t help playing 20 minutes with 14 guys, but we showed moments of inexperience, which was disappointing,” White said. “There were four minutes of madness when they scored three of their four tries.
“You can’t say you should have won when you’ve conceded four tries, but our attack was held up on the Stormers’ line a couple of times. The Stormers really stormed the breakdown.
“They would rather concede penalties than the try, and defence coach Norman Laker has been there a long time. In fact their whole coaching staff has been there a long time, so they are much more fluent.
“I don’t enjoy losing, but it’s a complete and utter juggling act at the moment. We are still young, every player in the Stormers pack is older than his Bulls counterpart. We have six guys who are 23 or younger,” White said.