Positive press drives All Blacks – Jake

Jake White

The November internationals always dig up the old debate around whether the Northern Hemisphere is catching up to the Southern Hemisphere, and never more so than in the year before a Rugby World Cup.

If a team doesn’t do well, some pundits ring the alarm bells with forecasts of a disastrous World Cup, while others highlight how previous teams that weren’t great in the November internationals went on to do well at the following World Cup, such as the Boks who struggled in 2006 and won in 2007.

One of the things I’ve learnt in my career is that certain countries try everything they can to create pressure through the media, so in the middle of all this talk, there are teams, coaches and players attacked in the media using quotes from former players and former coaches.

Australia used to have their own guy who travelled with the Wallabies, filmed everything on tour and then released whatever Rugby Australia wanted the media to see. Initially, the media appreciated the free content, but it eventually got to the point where they grew weary of having the storyline controlled by the Wallabies.

Eddie Jones and I crossed swords in the media when we were on opposite ends of the Springbok-Wallabies rivalry, and he later confirmed that the media-show was part of Australia’s plan to promote Test matches and gain a psychological advantage over their opponents.

That’s why, in the build-up to England’s Test against Australia last week, Eddie said he was expecting to read a few barbs from his former Randwick coach Bob Dwyer, and former Wallabies Simon Poidevin and David Campese.

“It’s all lined up, I’m just waiting for it. It’s all coordinated, it’s all fun,” said Eddie. “If you’re a bookmaker you’d bet on when they’re going to say it.”

People talk about the role that marketing, sponsorship, ticket sales and on-field entertainment play in rugby, and the media is also a massive part of that in the buildup to these matches.

But it’s different in New Zealand. The circus is much smaller there.

By their standards, the All Blacks had an average November tour and its given rise to the opinion that Kieran Read should step down as captain, Beauden Barrett isn’t the right guy at flyhalf and coach Steve Hansen looks tired.

But in New Zealand, within 12 hours of such an attack on the team, someone in the media rolls out Richie McCaw and Graham Henry saying something positive about the All Blacks, and what that does is defuse the negativity.

The Kiwi media go out of their way to kill that negative line. If one guy writes that Read is too old, another hack will go and talk to McCaw and turn that story around to say that Kieran is actually the perfect age. It’s been like that for years in New Zealand, and I’m sure it must be part of a code of ethics from the winner’s manual. It can’t be a coincidence.

People talk about how the All Blacks clean the change rooms after a Test, but one thing that isn’t documented is the use of the media. It’s incredible how all forms of media in New Zealand have bought into it – yes, you’ll have a guy who comes out and wants to write a negative piece and create sensation, but the way they respond to it is exemplary.

I think all the stakeholders in New Zealand understand what the team means to everybody and the importance of the players being at their best so that the All Blacks do well.

They know that writing negative stories will affect public sentiment, player confidence and team cohesion, and that’s why you almost never read anything that’s personal or vindictive in the New Zealand media because no-one there wants to play any part in the All Blacks’ demise.

And that doesn’t mean that everything is squeaky clean in New Zealand rugby. I’ve got no doubt that, for argument’s sake, the president of Taranaki isn’t best buddies with his opposite number in Auckland, and maybe the Chiefs guys think the Crusaders are arrogant, but it’s New Zealand first, and everyone buys into it.

I’m not talking about the Kiwi media squashing bad news, I mean they choose to write up the positive.

It’s certainly much easier to be positive about a team that wins 90% of their matches, but it’s chicken and egg. In South Africa, Nick Mallett got good press as the Boks marched to 17 Test victories in a row. And then, when it counted most, the media turned on a coach who had a 70% win record.

The All Blacks are not the best in the world just because they’ve got central contracting, they’ve also solved everything that happens outside of that, and you really have to complement them. Well done, New Zealand!

- Jake White

Let's chat

  • Barry

    We have this in SA as well to some degree. Take for example the role Rob Houwing plays in keeping the Province press positive! Lol.

    My experience of the New Zealand public is that they are religiously supportive whilst the AB’s are wining but equally scathing when the losses occasionally happen.

    Is it really positive that the Press try and modify public option, for surely it is through public option that changes are made!

  • SweetAz

    Well I live in NZ and Jake has it spot on. The only naysayer in the NZ media is Mark Reason and the poor guy is universally hated,–no matter whether it’s true or not. Everything in NZ is geared towards the AB’s being successful. Someone once tried to stand outside an AB’s game with a placard calling Richie McCaw a cheat,—well that ended well for him. They even give Knighthoods to coaches and players,—Its Sir Graham Henry now and McCaw turned one down because he didn’t feel he had earned it.
    Public opinion is not necessarily a driver of positive change, lemmings running over a cliff all believe they are part of the clever majority whereas the Bell curve indicates actual intelligence is only found in a small number of people.

    • Herman Schroder?

      You obviously not among them. Cheers.

      • SweetAz

        Coarse language,—LOL. It’s obvious you’ve never played rugby.

    • Barry

      Surely public opinion is the fundamental driver of a Democratic system, with decisions made by taking a balanced view of those opinions!

      I am not sure that journalist reports play a big role in my forming an opinion on our rugby. I rather base that on what is put in front of me on the field and the stats that either support or disprove those views. Journalists after all write stories for a living!

      • nezo

        it is this democracy that is actually destructive to small countries compared to major countries. democracy divides. opinions divide. there is no balancing of opinions if you want to be successful. read carefully my brother and you will find that there is no democracy on New Zealand Rugby. there is something beautiful that is a secret of all successful organisations from aslong as history has recorded.

        as bad as Apartheid was yet they did better that the democratic government. low crime, strong rand, well behaved children, strong Springboks etc. the Boks were even better that all teams during that time.

        am not saying apartheid is good. but there is a secret that they were using and that made our country successful back then.

        Mrs Zille said the same thing as above and shame she was attacked. ahhhh democracy. the women was right.

        Democratic opinion is more destructive to the BOKS than constructive.

  • Lunga

    S.African media is not motivating our Rugby players one mistake they call the player as quota player

    • Herman Schroder?

      The ANC and SARU brought quotas into selections not the media. If it was merit selection and a ‘black’ player made a mistake no one would point a finger. Anyway plenty ‘white’ players make mistakes as well, just ask Rassie he has practically a whole team making mistakes every test. Cheers.

  • Lunga

    Now the ref admit that he made an error by not penalising Owen Farrell,which means the Springbok wins 3 test series in the Northern Hemisphere

    • Herman Schroder?

      Only in the twilight zone. The France game was pulled by Nigel Owens by the way. Should have been one win ie Scotland and even that was only 6 points. Scotland ignored 4 kickable penalties as well. So change that it could have been no wins, lol. Cheers.. Cheers.

  • Tiisetso

    The South African media also does this. Except only a certain individuals are sheltered from bad press.

    Heineke Meyer never got slated by journos, but Peter de Villiers before him, a coach with the best stats against the All Blacks was dragged in the media week in and week out during his tenure.
    Even now that Rassie has performed as badly as Alistair Coetzee, there’s no critism in the media. Coetzee achieved a 50% plus win average without overseas based talent, he was lampooned after every test match and his competence was questioned[and not in a good way either], but Erasmus has only managed exactly 50% and with all the stars at his disposal.

    I’m yet to hear anyone in the media question his competence. Jake White himself is still heralded as the best South African coach of the professional era for winning a world cup where he didn’t face any of the rugby super powers of the world.

    • Coconut

      Did you see the scoreline by which we lost under AC? I cannot even have a serious conversation with you as it is clear you see everything in black and white.

    • Pierre

      Jake White won the Tri-Nations in his first year of coaching the Boks. The Tri-Nations consisted of the All Blacks and Wallabies, which were super powers in the rugby world if you did not know that. Jake restored pride to the Springboks after a horrible world cup the previous year with Rudolf Strauli. He picked a lot of youngsters from the U20 Springboks and build a team to later win the World Cup in 2007.
      Peter de Villiers was not popular with the media because he talked alot of crap and SARU admitted he was only chosen as coach because of the colour of his skin. He had a world cup winning team with loads of experience, all he had to do was pick the same players. The right decision should have been to reappoint Jake for atleast another 2 years, he had just won a world cup…but that is SARU for you, no future thinking

      • Herman Schroder?

        You seem to forget 2009 ??? Under Snorre we won the Tri Nations, beat the B&I Lions and went to No 1 on the world rankings. Even our Sevens team won the Sevens title that year. Snorre played 11 tests against NZ winning 5 including beating them three times in 2009. Mallett the best of the lot with 4 wins in seven starts.

        Heyneke Meyer played the AB’s 8 times winning only one thanks to a crooked tv producer intervention in 2014. None of our coaches since 2009 have adapted to the new rules introduced later and the rest is history. The age of dom krag had passed and since then Snorre failed in his last two years, HM failed in his four year term, AC failed in his two year tenure and Rassie failed in his first year, Nine years of dom krag rubbish and the trophy cabinet is bare. Cheers.

        • SweetAz

          Fok maar jy is onnosel,-Snorre inherited a world cup winning team and just kept it as is,—the players ran that team, ask anyone who was actually involved.
          Seriously man, get some help, -you have mental issues.

          • Herman Schroder?

            Not so oh confused one. Snorre by his own admission managed the team and he was good at that and got the results. By the way your argument falls flat when one wonders what happened to these 2007 world cup wonders after 2009 ??

            Players like Matfield were still plying their trade in 2015 and were piss poor under HM’s dom krag charged regime. Shouldn’t these WC wonders have improved on their 2007 successes ? No they didn’t because the coaches and players never adapted to a new game plan allowed under the rule changes which were subsequently perfected by the AB’s and the rest is history.

            Instead we stuck to the failed dom krag way with players to match. AC repeated it and now Rassie is similarly challenged. See the pattern here oh confused one ? Nine dom krag years and no trophies later and you still live in a world of make believe to this very day.

            Oh well only a life altering Damascus moment may alter your frame of mind somewhere in the future and good luck to you with that. It may also alter your pretty coarse language usage which you use too frequently imo. Class up old chap it’s only a game and we are mere onlookers. Cheers.

      • nezo

        Perfect answer Mr Pierre. although i dont agree with White getting two more. i still love what he did for us and would even give him more years coaching the Boks if he would be willing to add some finess to the Boks. but He is so stubborn. he just want to kick and defend to win.

        yes as fans we want to win but not ugly all the time.

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