Jake shrugs, rather looks towards Toulouse

rugby27 March 2023 08:00
By:Brenden Nel
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Jake White ©

While there were several moments that should have gone their way in their Vodacom United Rugby Championship defeat at the hands of Ulster on Saturday night, it was with a shrug of the shoulders that Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White chose to rather look forward than dwell on things he could not control.

The Bulls have every right to question several of the refereeing decisions in the game, and even more so two TMO interventions that were not only incorrect, but cost them a yellow card and a try in the process.

But rather than dwelling on this, White knows he has a bigger task - to get his side up for their match against the juggernaut Toulouse in the Heineken Champions’ Cup this weekend.

And while it may sound like White is a bit defeated after five losses in a row in the URC, he sees what big a task it is to play one of Europe’s top sides in their back yard.

“I’ve coached in France: it doesn’t get any tougher. Generally, people use that phrase quite often, but it doesn’t get any tougher than playing Toulouse in a knockout game in Toulouse,” White said.

“If you look at the Champions Cup historically, that’s one of the strongest home beds of European rugby. So, it’s going to be a massive task for us, and it’s going to be an opportunity to measure ourselves against some of the best players in the world.

“It’s no use lagging on things that we can’t change: you can only move forward. I said earlier to someone that it’s a great test even on my coaching. I’ve been coaching for a long time, and it’s a great test for us as a group and for me as a coach as well.

“These young guys have done well over the last couple of years, but they’re in a place that they haven’t been for a while. It’s going to be a great learning thing for all of us to see how we can get it right.”

There were a lot of positives on how the Bulls approached the Ulster match and the first half where they went into the sheds with an eight point lead.

But again things turned against them in the second and their own lapses, as well as a lack of finishing came back to haunt them.

Ulster finished strong and while there was a travesty in Bismarck du Plessis’ yellow card - a decision which is likely to be overturned this week but was very costly in the final moments of the game, it doesn’t help complaining about it.

The Bulls are at times their own worst enemies and have struggled to put an 80-minute performance together this season, and it is costing them.

On Saturday night once again they did enough to get the win, but were tripped up by technical mistakes and inaccuracies that allowed Ulster back in.

“It seems to be one of those seasons where we just do all the hard work and just can’t seem to get over the last hurdle,” White lamented.

“In the beginning, we were nice and direct, and went through them a few times. Our forwards played really well, especially in the 22 – the one time, we kept the ball for about 20 phases and we scored. So, there was a lot of effort and grunt, which is what we have been looking for. I can’t fault anything that they did.”

“Obviously one or two scrum penalties that gave them entries into our 22, and that Ulster team know how to score tries when they get to five yards from your tryline – they are doing it successfully against everybody.”