RATHBONE: My take on Jake’s resignation

Clyde Rathbone Columnist

By Clyde Rathbone, Clyde Rathbone is a Roar Expert

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    Jake White is searching for a new gig, which will hopefully elevate him to international level. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

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    “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ― Ernest Hemingway

    Hemingway’s quote can be interpreted many ways, but to me it represents that the best writing, and in fact the best anything, is that which is founded on the truth.

    Yesterday I jogged through a beautiful coastal village in England.

    The track ran parallel with the ocean and arced through blindingly green meadows and thick blueberry undergrowth.

    The supple tones of Angus and Julia Stone flowed through my headphones, melting my brain into an almost transcendent bliss. If I didn’t know better, I’d have called it a religious experience.

    Halfway through my run I was interrupted by a text message that told of Jake White’s resignation. My spiritual awakening ruined, I pondered the news as I trudged home.

    I know that, in the greater scheme of things, who coaches which team in any of the world’s sports is a relatively insignificant matter. And yet, despite this, I can’t help but fixate on the issue, if only for a moment.

    Jake and I go back a long way.

    Our paths intersected at a similar time in our respective careers – both unproven, standing at the foot of the mountain, wondering if we could summit the heights of world rugby.

    Winning the 2002 Junior World Cup launched both our careers.

    Jake went on to become a World Cup winning coach and my career promised much but ultimately never really got off the ground at Wallaby level. Such is life.

    I loved being coached by Jake as a junior – his passion for rugby was palpable and he believed so strongly in me that I could not help but believe in myself.

    His complete faith in his program borders on the delusional, and yet he seems to have an uncanny knack of willing his vision into a reality.

    When he called me early last year with the offer to return to the Brumbies, I initially turned him down. But the seed was well and truly planted and I couldn’t shake the sense that he was on the verge of something special with a raw, untapped group of players.

    Jake understands the factors which underpin success in team sports as well as anyone.

    He ensures that he surrounds himself with the very best personnel. He pays attention to standards and details and he always maintains the infectious conviction that his program will produce success.

    He is usually right.

    At the same time, I’ve come to know Jake as a highly strung, emotional and complex individual who can get bogged down and consumed by irrelevant issues and peripheral details.

    For all Jake’s success, he appears unsatisfied, always chasing the next opportunity. And so it was when he applied for the Wallaby coaching position.

    I know how disappointed Jake was at missing out on the Wallabies Job. He felt as though the politics that marred his time with the Springboks, and which he believed he had escaped in Australia, had burnt him once more.

    With that said, failure to secure the Wallabies job is not an acceptable reason to resign from the Brumbies. It’s not even close to being an acceptable reason.

    If Jake made his decision for family reasons, it’s an entirely different matter. No reasonable person would stand in the way of somebody with a desire to be closer to loved ones.

    I hope that this is the sole reason for Jake’s decision. But if pining for home and family is Jake’s rationale for relocation, why apply for the Wallaby coaching job?

    It’s all rather perplexing.

    Ultimately, no team wants a coach who is not fully committed and passionate about achieving team goals, which is why Jake’s decision appears to be in the best interests of both he and the Brumbies.

    What Jake and his support staff have created at the Brumbies is remarkable.

    It’s safe to say that Jake achieved the goals set for him in half the expected time. Working with a unknown group of players and a clean slate, Jake revolutionised the Brumbies’ rugby program.

    Along with Dean Benton, Laurie Fisher and Stephen Larkham, he drove the program to unprecedented levels of professionalism.

    As a result, the current generation of Brumbies are indebted to Jake for creating the best rugby program in Australia.

    I, for one, will always be grateful for the opportunity Jake gave me to return to the game after a four year absence. I can tell you my phone was hardly ringing off the hook with offers before Jake arrived in Canberra.

    In Laurie Fisher and Stephen Larkham, the Brumbies have two utterly selfless individuals to carry the team forward.

    Both Laurie and Bernie will always put the team first and have long been doing the bulk of the hands-on coaching. In this sense, the Brumbies are well-positioned to transition into next season in good hands.

    But for now, I’m on holiday, so enough about rugby. Exploring Berlin will always be more interesting to me than anything about any coach of any sport. And that’s the truth.

    Follow Clyde at his blog or via his Twitter page.

    Clyde Rathbone
    Clyde Rathbone

    Former Wallaby & Brumby Clyde Rathbone retired from rugby in 2014. Clyde is a writer, speaker and technology startup founder. A Roar columnist since 2012, you can follow Clyde via his Twitter page.

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    The Crowd Says (146)

    • September 27th 2013 @ 7:13am
      Johnno said | September 27th 2013 @ 7:13am | ! Report

      Jake White is an amazing man. Australian rugby is that much poorer that he has gone. For me in Australian rugby only Alan Jones, has had the same sort of mass wider audience influence, that Jake White has generated as coach.
      I hope you can eat your weet-bix this morning Bill Pulver, picking local Mckenzie over foriegner Jake White. Touche Billy.

      • September 27th 2013 @ 7:31am
        Hamish said | September 27th 2013 @ 7:31am | ! Report

        Agreed Billy. Too much fixation on things being done “the Australian way” at the moment.

        Too much emotion, too much pride involved.

        Lets just use some common sense here – World Cup winning coach, one of 7 in the history of the sport. And you choose a super rugby winning coach on the basis on nationality.

        Using Clydes mountain reference – Ewan is still at base camp, Jake is donning in oxygen mask.

        Best of luck Jake. Australias loss, not yours.

        • September 27th 2013 @ 10:11am
          jameswm said | September 27th 2013 @ 10:11am | ! Report

          Hamish, the style of play at the Reds and Brumbies was also a significant factor.

          • September 27th 2013 @ 10:57am
            Hamish said | September 27th 2013 @ 10:57am | ! Report

            The aim of the game is to have more points than the opposition after 80 minutes. Jake has proven to be one of the most successful people in recent history, and is better than Ewan MacKenzie at this.

            Not rocket science. The savior to Australia rugby would be to win the RWC 2015. Would make sense to employ someone that knows how to do that.

            • September 27th 2013 @ 3:30pm
              jameswm said | September 27th 2013 @ 3:30pm | ! Report

              Nah – to the ARU and others, the name of the game is also to entertain.

              Play aggressive attacking rugby to win, rather than play cynical rugby to win.

              That was a factor.

              • September 27th 2013 @ 6:10pm
                Hamish said | September 27th 2013 @ 6:10pm | ! Report

                Yes, but Australians love when Australia wins, and in that respect the only real national team sports that the nation gets behind as a whole when at its peak is cricket, soccer and rugby.

                Not much competition at the moment guys. Just win for crying out loud.

              • September 28th 2013 @ 6:16am
                Mark said | September 28th 2013 @ 6:16am | ! Report

                Hahaha I now see that entertainment was obviously the reason for the choice, after watching the first 4 games of the rugby championship. Some entertaining rugby the wallabies have been playing so far…

            • September 28th 2013 @ 6:22am
              Mark said | September 28th 2013 @ 6:22am | ! Report

              There were only 3 teams to score fewer tries than the reds. So their defense is the entertaining rugby the ARU was looking for?

          • September 27th 2013 @ 5:30pm
            chann wee said | September 27th 2013 @ 5:30pm | ! Report

            mmm ; form from that principle , NZ shud have a Crusader’s coach and SA shud never have a BUlls coach !!!

            But the irony is Deans never adopted the Crusaders’ style with OZ 🙂

            • September 27th 2013 @ 7:48pm
              Dumpkopf said | September 27th 2013 @ 7:48pm | ! Report

              Robbie never adopted the Crusaders style with OZ for one simple reason – aussie players just don’t have the skills to play at that level. As a coach Robbie was a realist and played to the strengths of the team he had.

            • September 27th 2013 @ 7:59pm
              ACT said | September 27th 2013 @ 7:59pm | ! Report

              Do you think Wobblies had the cattle to play the Crusaders style?

          • September 27th 2013 @ 7:57pm
            ACT said | September 27th 2013 @ 7:57pm | ! Report


            Which province scored more tries, beat BIL, gave the Bulls their first finals loss at home and came within 15 mins of winning the SR finals?

            ARU and Pulver have blown their chance to get the best available coach, period!

        • September 28th 2013 @ 4:44pm
          Hopperdoggy said | September 28th 2013 @ 4:44pm | ! Report

          Looks to me that too much emotion & pride are as much Jake’s burden to bear as they are the ARUs…..

      • September 27th 2013 @ 8:08am
        The Electronic Swagman said | September 27th 2013 @ 8:08am | ! Report

        Comment removed.

        • September 27th 2013 @ 8:14am
          Johnno said | September 27th 2013 @ 8:14am | ! Report

          Electronic Swagman, has Mckenzie been on Alan Jones show, no. Has Jake White been invited on Alan Jones show, yes.

        • September 27th 2013 @ 8:25am
          Skip said | September 27th 2013 @ 8:25am | ! Report

          Electric Swagman, What one earth does this have to do with the impact Alan Jones had on Rugby.
          For the record I am no Alan Jones the Radio Hosts fan. However he did take Australian Rugby to a new level.
          Take your politic opinion to another site.

        • September 27th 2013 @ 8:34am
          Christo the Daddyo said | September 27th 2013 @ 8:34am | ! Report

          Roar mods – this post needs to be taken down immediately please.

          • September 27th 2013 @ 9:45am
            Zero Gain said | September 27th 2013 @ 9:45am | ! Report

            No it doesn’t, because, in my opinion, its all true. Free speech is very important even if you do not approve of the message.

            • September 27th 2013 @ 11:25am
              shahsan said | September 27th 2013 @ 11:25am | ! Report

              I agree with Zero Gain. And besides, Alan Jones is overrated as a rugby coach. He was a good organiser and made rugby more professional.
              But he has somehow managed to convince people that hie was an outstanding rugby coach. His Grand Slam success was against four British teams at probably their lowest point of the past 50 years. Collectively, their best players the previous year had lost a Lions series 4-0 to New Zealand.
              And Jones’ Bledisloe Cup win was against a New Zealand side in a state of enormous flux, with Baby Blacks, one-match bans after a rebel tour etc.
              To me the real test was in 1987, and whether he could deliver a World Cup that was, before the final, played on home soil. And we all know how he failed.

              • September 27th 2013 @ 11:33am
                Johnno said | September 27th 2013 @ 11:33am | ! Report

                shahsan Alan Jones 1986 Wallabies in the game 3 decider they won 22-9, at the Eden Park Fortress. No Wallaby team has won since at Eden Park, 27 years and counting.

              • September 27th 2013 @ 11:36am
                shahsan said | September 27th 2013 @ 11:36am | ! Report

                Yes, my point exactly. He was lucky he didn’t face the real All Blacks the whole series.

              • September 27th 2013 @ 11:42am
                Johnno said | September 27th 2013 @ 11:42am | ! Report

                ha ha i win you lose, the AB’S won the 2nd test so had the momentum, and at eden park decider fortress, you lose the argument.

              • September 27th 2013 @ 11:52am
                shahsan said | September 27th 2013 @ 11:52am | ! Report

                Yes, that’s possible. But also possible Kiwis would have won 2-0 by then. I said the whole series, without disruption and controversy.
                Mate, how old are you? Been educated much?
                I remember now. You’re the same brainiac who said Lomu even at his peak wouldn’t be much of a 7s players in the modern era. Despite someone like Gordon Tietjens naming him as one of his top 7s players of all time.
                Okay, keep talking, mate. You always make perfect sense.

      • September 27th 2013 @ 12:56pm
        Biggs said | September 27th 2013 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

        Jake White is a victim of the reaction to having a Kiwi coach the last 5 years and not achieving the success that was hoped for. Simple as that. Mickey Arthur probably didn’t help either.

        Seems to me “playing the Australian way” is a load of hogwash. Qld have often won games on field position and defence. If anything, Robbie Deans was more of an “Australian way” coach than McKenzie. Jake wasn’t Australian and two of our most iconic national teams were going through a period of struggle with non-Australian coaches at the helm. Jake was a case of being in the right place at the wrong time.

        I have no doubts he was a better coach than McKenzie. Certainly better-credentialed, and certanely more experienced. I think there would be almost no-one (if not actually no-one) else who could have done what he did at the Brumbies (perhaps Rod McQueen?). Hopefully Bernie and Laurie Fisher have soaked up the lessons from Jake.

        • September 27th 2013 @ 3:06pm
          Johnno said | September 27th 2013 @ 3:06pm | ! Report


        • September 27th 2013 @ 6:01pm
          shrek said | September 27th 2013 @ 6:01pm | ! Report


        • September 28th 2013 @ 6:25am
          Mark said | September 28th 2013 @ 6:25am | ! Report


      • September 27th 2013 @ 3:29pm
        Jokerman said | September 27th 2013 @ 3:29pm | ! Report

        Really nice article. Remember the mind can stop bliss in a second. When you are in that state, bliss, that is where you can enter the Zen. But there are also times when it is a battle and life is tough, but there is a rough diamond to be surfaced through that. Evolve with the bliss, accept the tough moments. Ask McCaw if he was having fun in the last 10 minutes of the RWC final against France, or more succinctly was he at peace? The answer is no, but it will always mean a lot to him and he had to go through it, which does take him closer to finding his peace and bliss. And that is life you have to go through certain experiences to evolve.

        Nice to hear the strengths and weakness of Jake White. Maybe he needs to enter the Zen. Wanting can be the state of the ego, never satisfied and not being in the moment. I’m not judging him on that, but almost everyone have weakness’s that they have to recognise, work through, let go and allow then to dissipate.

    • September 27th 2013 @ 7:24am
      Crash Ball2 said | September 27th 2013 @ 7:24am | ! Report

      Great insight Clyde, thanks. I’ve been wondering about the reaction of the players beyond the initial response. As a Brumbies supporter, I too am baffled by the conflicting rationale for departure and disappointed by the lack of commitment to the terms of his agreed contract. Nothing takes away from the gratitude all in Australian rugby should feel for Jake’s remarkable cultural and professional transformation at the Brumbies. But for all the noise, the job was not done. Neither in stated tenure nor end result. Great coach. By all accounts, a good man. So long Jake, and thanks for all the fish.

    • Roar Guru

      September 27th 2013 @ 7:38am
      Who Needs Melon said | September 27th 2013 @ 7:38am | ! Report

      You’re a good man Clyde. Always enjoy reading your articles because you always speak from the heart and are bravely honest.

      As for his reasons, who can ever know another mans inner workings. I myself don’t think I have ever had that obsessive / driven self-belief that it sounds like Jake has and I’m sure almost all (if not all) professional rugby players have. I am constantly questioning myself, where I’m heading, career choice, etc. so I can relate to one or two events triggering a reconsideration as seems to have happened with Jake.

      • September 27th 2013 @ 10:14am
        jameswm said | September 27th 2013 @ 10:14am | ! Report

        Melon it’s the combination of bravely honest and worldliness that I like. Always a nice philosophy on life in Clyde’s articles.

      • September 27th 2013 @ 11:21am
        nickoldschool said | September 27th 2013 @ 11:21am | ! Report

        Great, great, great post WNM. Exactly my thoughts.

        I too very much enjoyed Clyde’s article yet I probably disagree with him when he says “With that said, failure to secure the Wallabies job is not an acceptable reason to resign from the Brumbies. It’s not even close to being an acceptable reason.”.

        Dont want to start philosophizing on the roar but imo every reason is a good enough reason if you feel this is the right one for you. By for you I mean your family (if it matters to you), your values, your self esteem, your pride, your dignity, basically what makes you a man. And when it comes to that, we are all different and all have a different mindset. So maybe things which happened in the last few months affected JW in such a manner that he just couldnt continue his job here. He probably doesnt read this but he has my full respect and he isnt a lesser man because he chose another path 2 days ago. Every man who stays true to himself and his values has my respect and there is no evidence it wasnt the case.

    • September 27th 2013 @ 7:56am
      jutsie said | September 27th 2013 @ 7:56am | ! Report

      Great stuff yet Again Clyde.

    • September 27th 2013 @ 8:15am
      Safferbogun said | September 27th 2013 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      Good insight like always, I suppose this shows that from a team perspective and club the job could be seen as done. Fans could say they have not won anything but if they do in the next few years jakes program and foundations would have a hand in it. Let’s not hate, it’s better to be positive, say thank you and build on it.

    • Roar Guru

      September 27th 2013 @ 8:15am
      Mick Gold Coast QLD said | September 27th 2013 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      Well written, well reasoned, well done.

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