White dares Sharks to test altitude theory with 80-minute jolt at Loftus

Bulls director of rugby Jake White is daring the Sharks to go at full tilt for the entire 80 minutes of Saturday’s United Rugby Championship encounter at Loftus Versfeld.

Jake White (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)

Jake White (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)

Bulls director of rugby Jake White stopped short of goading the Sharks into running for a full 80 minutes on the Highveld when they meet in a United Rugby Championship clash in Tshwane on Saturday.

Responding to a question on the impact of altitude on visiting teams at Loftus Versfeld, White said he won’t go against proven science, but would love to see the Sharks speeding up the game.

While altitude has proven to get the better of coastal teams, the Bulls were upstaged at home by the Stormers while the Sharks have been competitive at Loftus Versfeld.

“International sports stars train at altitude before they go to the Olympics, so maybe they’ll start at sea level if it’s not that important,” White said.

“The proof will be seen in whether they can play a fast game at altitude. They’re one team that kicks a lot and plays slowly.

“The rests they have in between plays is longer than any other team, but I’d be very happy if they play quickly.

“Having been a physical education master and coached for a long time, altitude does play a role, which is why Olympic training generally takes place at altitude.

“If Sean and John Dobson think they can bypass what science has proved over 100 years, then good luck.”

With the addition of European fixtures at home for South African teams, White is also looking forward to establishing some momentum.

The South African teams have away games on 25 February, but over three weekends in March, they will have a clutch of home games if Covid-19 allows.

“There’s a stop-start to this tournament and I guess it has been amplified by the Covid-19 situation we find ourselves in,” White said.

“We’ve played at home now, so we’ve got another chance to play at home. In the first six rounds, we had five away games.

“It gives us a chance to get a home base going from a preparation perspective, but we’ll be travelling again before those home games.

“Looking at the past two weeks, I hope this coming week will be an add-on to what we got right in those weeks.”

Saturday’s clash kicks off at 17:05.