Jack White has taken just six-days to complete his analysis of French Top 14 club Toulon. The former South Africa coach was brought in by big-spending president Mourad Boudjellal to assess the overall situation and use his expertise to highlight where things could be improved.
It seems unlikely that White was being paid by the hour though as he has drawn his conclusions much sooner than expected. In fact, he only viewed one match – the 30-9 victory over Montpellier in the European challenge cup – before assessing the club’s pedigree.
Despise the brisk nature of White’s visit, Boudjellal seemed satisfied with what the South African had to say. The president said that White ‘explained a lot of things’ including ‘different training methods’ and ‘position changes’ for certain players.
These are obviously suggestions that Boudjellal and the relevant people will take on board, however there was one thing in particular that White recommended which could be implemented sooner rather than later.
As Boudjellal explained, White believed that the squad has ‘too many players’ and that this has a tendency to decrease the standard of rugby being played. Being the brutal president that he is, Boudjellal has reacted to these views by saying that he will get rid of anyone that is ‘not up to scratch’ and that by 2009, the squad will me much smaller than the current number of 54.
The interesting thing about the arrangement with White though is that he may not be done just yet. It has since been revealed that he could end up forming a long term relationship with Toulon by scouting for them and recruiting young South African players.
Speaking about this, Boudjellal said that he hopes White will be able to head the club’s recruitment process in South Africa by giving him the names of promising players that Toulon could bring into the club.
The first thing I think of when hearing this is: what are South African clubs going to think? Surely they won’t be delighted that their former coach is helping a foreign team recruit some of their best young players?
On the other hand though, perhaps a taste of European rugby early in their career wouldn’t do them much harm at all in that it would prepare them for their potential international careers against the European teams. There was some discussion on The Rugby Blog recently about New Zealand’s ‘strategy’ of sending their players on brief sojourns to Europe, and it will certainly be intriguing to see how this one develops over the coming months.
Looking at Toulon’s current league position though, it is no wonder that they are seeking new talent and using White’s expertise. After 12 Top 14 matches, they sit 12th in the table with only three victories to their name. They were only promoted last season, but with the money they spent the rugby odds on expected them to be at least four or five places higher at this stage.
Next up for them is a trip to 8th placed Montpellier in a game that will be very difficult for them. In fact, considering the ‘no tolerance’ approach from their president, if the Montpellier game ends in defeat and this is followed by a poor run of results, I’d be tempted to stick a rugby bet on Jack White becoming their permanent coach. Any takers?
By Thomas Rooney