French Top 14 club Toulon and English Premiership outfit Saracens are set for a tug-o’-war over the services of South Africa’s World Cup-winning coach Jake White.
White will be offered the chance to return to Saracens next year, after his week-long
consultancy ended in a 23-6 victory over Worcester on Sunday, according to a report on www.rugby365.com.
Saracens director of rugby Eddie Jones, who is a close friend of White having worked alongside the South African at the World Cup, revealed he has already set in motion a deal for White to return early in 2009.
However, Toulon’s eccentric club president Mourad Boudjellal is also busy with negotiations to sign White on a long-term contract.
White, who will be assisted by Jones when he coaches the Barbarians against Australia at Wembley on Wednesday, will head to Toulon for a three-week stint later this week.
The South African-based Sunday Times reports that the deal is simply an entrée, with Boudjellal to meet White’s agent, Craig Livingstone, apparently to thrash out a long-term deal.
But Jones hopes his friendship with White will swing the decision in favour of the English club.
White worked with the English Premiership team’s defence, which had leaked three tries in each of its last two games, and Saracens reaped the rewards by conceding only two penalties to secure their first win in three matches on Sunday.
Pacific Islander Kameli Ratuvou scored a try and Glen Jackson and Brad Barritt also crossed the line to prevent Mike Ruddock’s Worcester making it three consecutive wins.
Jones, who was White’s confidant and advisor at during the Boks’ victorious World Cup campaign in France last year, confirmed that he was aware of the Toulon offer.
“Jake is a top coach and a guy I’ve known a while and I’m confident of getting him back here in January or February,” said Jones.
“He came in and wanted us to change one or two things with our defence.
“He’s a good guy to have as a consultant.
“I know Toulon have been calling him so I’ll be interested to see if he goes there.
“He has already sent me five text messages asking ‘who coached the defence this week?’ so I know he’ll be interested in doing it again.
“It was a very good performance from us and I’m really pleased with our whole team, I thought everybody contributed out there and it was important to get a win.”
But Toulon is dangling a typical French cash carrot in front of White.
“It’s true we’re meeting, but more than that I cannot say,” Livingstone, who travels to France next week, told the Sunday Times.
The ambitious Boudjellal, who made his fortune publishing comic books, has assembled an impressive cast of players, but they haven’t been able to win championships.
Tana Umaga is the current coach, but the new deal with White looks like the beginning of the end for the former All Black centre.Tweet