I will quit, says Jake

On the day of the deciding Test match against France, South African rugby is in turmoil again, with Jake White on the verge of resigning as Springbok coach just 16 months after taking the job.

White has accused the SA Rugby Union of breach of contract and has given it an ultimatum that unless he is allowed to select his team without interference, he will quit on Monday.

It was reliably learned that if White does step down, the Saru will appoint SA Under-21 coach Peter de Villiers in his place, making him the first black Springbok coach.

"If Jake goes, we will appoint a black coach," Saru President Brian van Rooyen said on Friday.

In recent days White has been taking heat from all sides. This week alone he received a torrent of abuse and hate mail from racist fans for selecting Lawrence Sephaka at tighthead prop and Enrico Januarie at scrumhalf for today's Test.

The latest crisis to rock South African rugby has erupted just six months after the Springboks swept the board at the annual International Rugby Board awards evening in London.

This was after South Africa won the Tri-Nations in August, five months after White took over from Rudolf Straeuli, who resigned in the wake of the Geo Cronje race row and the scandal over Kamp Staaldraad.

Now White is threatening to walk out.

The latest eruption flared when White clashed with Van Rooyen over selections before announcing the Springbok team to play France last week.

It contained only two black players in the starting line-up, wing Bryan Habana and prop Eddie Andrews.

In an exclusive interview this week White revealed some of the pressure he has endured as Bok coach in recent days. People had started abusing and insulting him in public, through e-mails and letters.

The most vitriolic was sent from a Jvrensburg with an AOL address and reads: "What the f... is the matter with you? You want to put black players in the team because of their colour. How do you think that f...ing team will do if there are 10 black players and they play against Australia and New Zealand?"

The message continued: "How would you feel if they they put someone in your place because of his skin colour but you knew you were better qualified. That's how those players feel when a quota player is selected over them, because his colour is right.

"F... that, you're a c...t. You f...ing English c...t. You're just as much of a know-all as the bloody Pommies. F... you!"

It is widely known in rugby circles that White resents the interference of SA Rugby Deputy President Andre Markgraaff, who is also chairman of the rugby committee that makes all key appointments to the Springbok team.

Behind the scenes Markgraaff is believed to have been conspiring to have White replaced as Bok coach by Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer.

According to a top rugby source, Van Rooyen told White last week that he was the only ally White could count on and that to prevent Markgraaff or Saru Vice-President Mike Stofile interfering with his team, he would have to trust him.

Van Rooyen also told White that unless he selected at least three black players in his starting line-up there would be political pressure demanding a more representative side.

On Sunday, Van Rooyen told White that he would be making a mistake unless he selected Solly Tyiblika, who was born and bred in the Eastern Cape, at flank instead of Danie Rossouw.

At one stage it had also been suggested that hooker Hanyani Shimange start the Test, with captain John Smit switching to prop.

When White gave Van Rooyen the team he wanted to select on Sunday night, the Saru boss asked why Sephaka was being played out of position at tighthead. Van Rooyen told White he would accept the team, but he was not happy with its racial composition.

He said that to satisfy political demands, White would need to play three black players in his starting line-up and have four on the bench.

Officially, South African rugby denies that there is a quota at senior provincial, Currie Cup or Springbok level. But White's contract is believed to have a separate clause specifying his responsibilities to transformation.

Whites lawyer's sent a letter to Saru on Monday saying their client did not welcome interference in the selection of the Bok team by convener of selectors Peter Jooste, Van Rooyen, or anyone else.

In the letter White said official interference in the selection of his team had dated back to last August.

The ultimatum was that unless White were given complete authority over team selection, he would resign on Monday.

However, a possible legal fight is also looming as White insists Saru are in breach of contract. If he does quit he will almost certainly demand to be paid out for the remainder of his term.


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