Vodacom and Jake White kickstart young rugby talent with new online coaching series
The Jake White Kickstart Series, termed ‘Jake’s Kickstart’, is a fun introduction to the game of rugby for players aged 5-9
Vodacom has embarked on a major digital drive to empower both rugby coaches and young players by taking the already highly successful Bulletjie Rugby coaching programme and developing it into a freely available series of online episodes featuring Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White, his coaching staff, and even Bulletjie himself. The Jake White Kickstart Series, termed ‘Jake’s Kickstart’, is a fun introduction to the game of rugby for players aged 5-9 – both boys and girls – using the highly popular Bulletjie Rugby concept and coaching principles and led by the vastly experienced White and Vodacom Bulls defence coach Joey Mongalo.
The episodes, which will be available on the Vodacom Bulls App, are all aimed at conveying the skills and strategies that make rugby fun and enjoyable for young players, while at the same time empowering coaches to be able to develop players and bring out the best in their young stars.
“The Blue Bulls Rugby Union has a holistic approach to the development of the game, and this has always been important to us because we believe you build the house from the ground up, not from the roof down. So it’s as important to us that rugby grows and excels at a junior level as it does at the level where the Vodacom Bulls are winning trophies,” said Willem Strauss, President of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union.
“One of the reasons South Africa is a major rugby nation is that our junior rugby system is so strong. That is the conveyor belt of talent that keeps coming through. That’s also where the culture is created, and it’s at this young age where the core values of the game – work ethic, healthy lifestyles, playing for one another – are built. So we’re extremely proud to be able to work with Vodacom and Jake White in now having yet another tool that strengthens our entire rugby value system,” said Strauss.
Vodacom’s digitalisation of this series will develop the game even further with free online access to a coaching philosophy that takes the development model of the country’s most successful team and makes it available to all.
“Vodacom is deeply invested in the future of the game and the growth of both players and coaches,” said Michelle van Eyden, Head of Sponsorship for Vodacom.
“The Blue Bulls Rugby Union has some 7 000 coaches affiliated to it. The last Bulletjie Rugby Day at Loftus Versfeld, before the COVID-19 pandemic, had roughly 5 000 young rugby players taking part. There were over 150 teams there, and this included a significant number of 900 development rugby players.
“So this is a union with a very successful coaching ethos and a vibrant base of young players who are eager to learn the game. We are proud to bring our technology skills in partnership to this and now digitalise this highly successful approach so that it can be available to all and possibly unearth even more talent for the benefit of South African rugby.”
The first 12 episodes of the series focus on the basics of rugby, from how to score points to how to tackle safely and effectively, how to pass, and the basic rules of the game. It’s all conveyed in a fun and entertaining manner, with the popular Bulletjie mascot and a few Vodacom Bulls players even making an appearance.
For Dr Eugene Hare, CEO of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union, the partnership with Vodacom represents a major step in ensuring that the consistency in excellence of the Bulletjie coaching programme is made available to all, especially the large number of development players in the more rural areas.
“Our greatest challenge is to ensure that every single Bulletjie rugby player gets the same consistent level of coaching, whether that player is in Pretoria or in Cape Town. Thanks to this partnership with Vodacom, we now have for the first time a visual source provided by a World Cup-winning coach in Jake White and a world-class coach such as Joey Mongalo providing the best practices in coaching that every other coach, teacher or father can now have access to.
“It’s a major step forward for us in terms of the standardisation of our programme and is a great support for the excellent work done by Hennie van Vuuren, our coaching and education manager, to ensure that the roughly 7 000 coaches in our programme now have the visual tool to correctly convey the rugby techniques to their players.”
The goal is to eventually build on this series with similar episodes focused on primary and high school rugby, and then even senior rugby.
Episodes 1-4 of Jake’s Kickstart are now available on the Vodacom Bulls App. Two new episodes will be released weekly for the next four weeks. Use #JakesKickstart to join the conversation.