Canberra - Brumbies coach Jake White wants to use a new alliance with the
University of Canberra as the extra bait to lure South Africa's most
talented juniors to the capital.
The Brumbies have boosted their immediate finances on the
eve of the Super Rugby competition by announcing a one-year naming
rights sponsorship with the University of Canberra, worth an estimated
But White, who guided South Africa to the 2007 World Cup,
is determined to convert the relationship into a long-term gain for his
White plans to capitalise on the strong connection
between rugby and education in South Africa. As a former Springboks
coach, he still holds a lot of influence on where South Africa's rising
stars choose to play.
"I would love to attract some boys to come and play rugby in Australia," White said.
"Every day I get calls from dads [in South Africa] asking where I suggest their kid can play.
"It shouldn't be underestimated a lot of South Africans
will see this link and see it as an opportunity [to come and try to play
for the Brumbies].
"Our challenge is to make sure we at the Brumbies do our
homework ... it can't just be a sponsorship arrangement, it has to be a
genuine boost and partnership."
When White signed a four-year deal to coach the Brumbies
last May, he expressed his desire to recruit South African schoolboy
stars and get them to train in the club's development programs.
Now he wants university delegates to travel with the
Brumbies to South Africa in April and organise meetings with top young
White knows first hand how passionate South Africans are about rugby.
He has been coaching in schools since 1982 and high
schools and universities have extremely strong allegiances to their
The Brumbies are allowed three foreign players on their
roster - one marquee signing and two developing internationals. Dan
Vickerman and Clyde Rathbone are two examples of South Africans who have
played with the Brumbies and gone on to represent the Wallabies.
White said he would not try to influence young players to
choose between committing to the Wallabies or Springboks, but he was
confident South African junior stars could be enticed to join the
Brumbies and the university.
"Nothing would hurt me more than to tell a South African
dad to bring his kid here and he doesn't leave Canberra a better
player," White said.
"I don't want these boys to come here and to be a
Brumbies fan, I want him to come here with an opportunity to play for
"There's no reason why it can't happen, I get excited
because we're sitting on something great, but we can't just offer an
opportunity to study.
"It's going to promote rugby in Canberra and increase the standard of rugby we have here.
"It won't happen in year one, but it will be sustainable for South African and New Zealand boys to come here and study."
White warned the agreement needed to be more than "lip
service" to ensure he could attract the best recruits and turn them into
better players in Canberra.
The university will get maximum exposure in South Africa and New Zealand when the Super Rugby season begins on February 24.
Rugby is the No 1 sport in both countries and more than 4 million viewers watched the Brumbies' games last season
Twenty-three per cent of the university's student
population is from overseas, but only a small minority is from South
Africa or New Zealand with most travelling from China and South East
The Brumbies could also move their base to the university campus in the coming years.
The club had its plans to redevelop Griffith Oval blocked
on heritage grounds in 2010 and is currently awaiting a decision on its
contentious application to rezone the site of its headquarters for
redevelopment as apartments.