Allister Coetzee has failed to advance the Stormers but his replacement faces an equally difficult task with the resources he'll have and the expectation that comes with the job, says RYAN VREDE.
Coetzee will take up a coaching role at Japan's Kobelco Steelers after the Stormers' Vodacom Super Rugby campaign concludes. Coetzee's departure will come as a relief to many Stormers supporters who have seen their side decline steadily since their appearance in the 2010 final.
The Stormers have stagnated under Coetzee, developing chronic try-scoring problems and losing the defensive edge that often plastered over their attacking cracks. Two Currie Cup titles earned Coetzee stays of execution, but the domestic cup can surely no longer be considered a measure of a coach, given the absence of many of the country's elite players. Western Province and the Stormers will be better off without him.
Eddie Jones has been touted as his successor, reportedly meeting with the top brass at WP Rugby last week and being offered a multi-year contract to coach the side. This has excited supporters of the Cape franchise, but they should temper that excitement given that Jones has repeatedly stated his desire to coach Japan at the 2019 World Cup. WP Rugby would be unlikely to agree to a dual role, although they will remain confident of luring Jones based on his stated affinity for the city and South African rugby players gained through his time as consultant to the Springboks in 2007 – a role he was lauded for.
Landing Jones would be a major coup for the franchise. In him they would gain a Super Rugby and Tri Nations winner and a coach with World Cup experience. Given the expected exodus of senior players after the 2015 World Cup, Jones would face a similar rebuilding task at the Stormers to the one he had with the Brumbies in their formative years. His aptitude in this regard cannot be questioned. However, again, it seems unlikely that he would abandon his long-held ambition of coaching Japan at their home World Cup.
Whoever takes the reigns at the Stormers faces an arduous challenge. Still without a Super Rugby title to their name, and appearing to be nowhere near ending that drought in 2015, Coetzee's successor will likely have to work with a combination of a clutch of Springboks, many average senior players and a troop of exciting prospects graduating from the junior teams. The incoming man should have experience in operating in this type of environment if he is to compete at a level beyond the mediocre.
If the Jones deal doesn't materialise, names like Nick Mallett and Brendan Venter (among others) would be an ever-present in the debate. WP Rugby would probably also consider John Dobson, who has climbed the coaching ladder in the Cape through consistent success, and, based on my professional interaction with him, is an astute tactician and good man-manager.
Personally, I'd try to lure Rassie Erasmus back to the post. He left the union after being stifled in his ambition. He then took up a role with the South African Rugby Union, and was recently appointed general manager of their newly formed 'Rugby Department' which will focus on creating an unbroken pathway for players and coaches from youth rugby to Springbok level.
Erasmus is an excellent fit for his current position and snapping him up would be a difficult and costly exercise. He may also not have the appetite to deal with the amateurish running of the union. However, if the possibility of bringing him back as a head coach exists, he, for me, would tick all the boxes.
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