CAPE TOWN – Regarded as a strict headmaster-type coach, Jake White showed his other side this week ahead of Saturday’s Rainbow Cup final between the Bulls and Benetton in Treviso.
Having become the undoubted champions of South Africa, the Bulls are in a different scenario altogether by travelling to Europe and playing a final away from Loftus Versfeld.
So, after naming his team on Friday, White said that he used a unique way to take some of the pressure off his team upon arrival in Italy.
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“We’ve been working very hard on that (new environment). We took them on a bit of a boat cruise yesterday – went through a little island off Venice. Spent some chilling time together, got them away and out of the hotel,” the former Bok coach said.
“We went via Amsterdam, also a first time for some of them. They are young guys. I’m getting a bit older now, but we forget how young some of them are – 22, 23, 24 years old.
“Last week, they played in a must-win game in Durban, massive pressure. Next week, they get on to an aeroplane via Amsterdam to Venice, so it’s exciting. With that excitement comes a lot of energy, and I’m hoping we can translate some of that energy into a great performance tomorrow afternoon.
“At the end of the day, we are here to play rugby, and to do our jobs. And our job is to play as well as we can when we run out.”
Some of the players took to social media to capture their free time around Treviso and Venice, with wing Madosh Tambwe enjoying some of the famous gelato ice-cream, while loose forward Nizaam Carr and fullback Gio Aplon also posted some pictures and videos.
When asked by IOL Sport if any players had fallen out of the boats, captain Marcell Coetzee said: “Luckily, no no no! They were well disciplined, and luckily the coaches were with to keep it stable. It was an enjoyable trip, and part of the trip, you just need some time to reflect, to realise how you got here and what your roots are, and just enjoy every moment.
“It’s a blessing to be in a final, and one the boys are really looking forward to. This is the first time I’ve felt so much heat in Europe, to be honest – Belfast was very much a cold place.
“But there are no excuses. If you want to be a champion, you have to adapt quickly. That’s kind of the motto this week – just focusing on the main thing, and the main thing must stay the main thing.”