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Furious Jake White unleashes scathing rebuke on Bulls fans amidst Owen Farrell controversy

By Jan De Koning
Saracens' Owen Farrell during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Harlequins and Saracens at The Stoop on November 18, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Bob Bradford - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Saracens’ Director of Rugby Mark McCall declined to get dragged into the subject, but his Bulls counterpart Jake White did not hold back in his condemnation of the Loftus Versfeld ‘boo boys’.

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The Bulls overpowered three-time champions Saracens 27-16 in their opening Champions Cup outing in Pretoria on Saturday – with flyhalf Johan Goosen contributing 12 points with the boot.

He converted the tries of centre David Kriel, lock Janko Swanepoel and wing Canan Moodie, also slotting two penalties.

In response, Sarries captain Owen Farrell kicked two penalties, while fullback Alex Goode and second row Maro Itoje scored tries.

Things only got harder for the travelling side – No.8 Billy Vunipola was red-carded for a vicious shoulder charge at a ruck, while fullback Alex Goode (late tackle) and lock Maro Itoje (slapping the ball down) were issued with yellow cards.

The Bulls will now face Lyon away from home in their second match, with Saracens hosting Connacht.

In his post-match reaction, White made a point of calling out the ugly nature of some of the Loftus fans.

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Match Summary

2
Penalty Goals
2
3
Tries
2
3
Conversions
0
0
Drop Goals
0
106
Carries
108
7
Line Breaks
3
14
Turnovers Lost
7
2
Turnovers Won
8

Farrell has been frequently booed by opposition fans in recent weeks, especially during the World Cup with England, and announced a break from the international game for his mental well-being which will rule him out of the Six Nations.

This was his first game since that announcement and the South African fans booed Farrell after a missed drop-goal and when lining up a conversion towards the end of the game.

“I have nothing to say about that,” McCall responded to a question about the fans.

White, after being asked about the game and his team’s impressive win, made a point of taking a swipe at the fans.

“I am apologising for all the booing of Owen Farrell,” an indignant White said. “It is not who we [the Bulls] are,” he added.

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He suggested people have ‘jumped on the Owen Farrell hate bandwagon’ and there is no reason for the animosity towards the Saracens captain.

“I don’t understand all the negativity,” White said, adding: “He is an unbelievable player.

“What he has achieved in England is phenomenal.

“I am disappointed [about the booing]. I wanted the people to enjoy the fact that they get to see him play.

“You equate that to watching Tiger Woods play golf and [Michael] Jordan playing basketball. I must apologise, because it [booing] is not really who we are.

“We will address that,” he said of the boo boys.

He said he was happy with the win against such a powerful team as Saracens.

McCall admitted his side had been up against it at altitude in Pretoria, with the red and yellow cards costing them.

“When you are losing collisions and under pressure then sometimes that lack of discipline happens,” the Sarries boss said.

“I thought Alex Goode was unlucky to be honest, I didn’t agree with that decision.

“Billy was trying to be urgent and clear out from a line-out and got it wrong. These things happen sometimes.

“I’m pleased we fought back hard in the second half but disappointed with the first half.”

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finn 9 hours ago
Massive red flag raised by weakened Champions Cup teams – Andy Goode

I wonder if the problem of some teams not taking it that seriously would be helped by making performance in the champions cup count towards qualification and/or seeding in the following year’s competition. Eg. top four seeds would be winners of the URC, premiership, and top 14, plus best performing team in the previous year’s CC who have not otherwise qualified. Doing that the seedings for this years comp. would have been: Tier one: Saracens - Munster - Toulouse - la Rochelle Tier two: Sale - Stormers - Racing 92 - Leinster Tier three: Leicester - Connacht - Bordeaux - Exeter Tier four: Northampton - Ulster - Lyon - Sharks Tier five: Harlequins - Glasgow - Stade Francais - Edinburgh Tier six: Bath - Bulls - Toulon - Ospreys The competition would probably work better with fewer teams, so I’d probably favour only the first 4 tiers being invited, and then going straight to a quarter final without a round of 16. On the one hand this would possibly incentivise teams to take the champions cup seriously, and on the other it would mean that the latter stages would be more likely to involve teams that have demonstrated a willingness to take the competition seriously. The main differences between my proposed system and the actual draw is that mine would give la Rochelle a fairly easy ride to the quarters, and would either exclude the Bulls entirely or would give then an insurmountably difficult draw. As it happened Exeter got quite an easy pool draw but that was a bit of a fluke. My system would reward Exeter for being one of the teams that demonstrably devote a lot of attention to the CC by guaranteeing them a good draw.

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