Dobson: Stormers ‘excited’ to focus solely on rugby

Stormers head coach John Dobson says SA Rugby has told the team to focus solely on Friday’s Vodacom United Rugby Championship match against Dragons after a turbulent period in Western Province’s history was brought to a head this week. DYLAN JACK reports.

SA Rugby confirmed on Tuesday that it has advised the WPRFU it is invoking its constitutional power to take administrative control of the union. The advice was provided following a decision by the executive council (Exco) of the South African Rugby Union on Monday.

Experienced former SA Rugby CEO Rian Oberholzer has been appointed as an administrator and will assume oversight of the union’s affairs immediately. His remit includes supervision of the operational affairs of Western Province (Pty) Ltd, which manages the professional playing teams of the Stormers and Western Province.

The Stormers are currently over 13,000km away from Cape Town, looking for their first win of the campaign over Dragons in Newport on Friday, after coming away with a creditable draw with Edinburgh in the third round of the competition.

Asked about how the team has reacted to what had taken place back home, Dobson said that the mood was very positive.

“The team is upbeat. They have had energy throughout the tour. As a team, we have largely tried to immunise ourselves from all that has been going on off the field. I think we have done a reasonably good job of it.

“I was required to tell everyone on Wednesday and the players have just wanted to focus on the rugby. As a coach and the team’s patron, it has been a hell of a period. It’s just an opportunity now to focus on rugby without headlines or people from the outside saying we are not going to get paid.

“For me personally, to be able to focus on the team, it’s exciting. We have been really disciplined in not getting involved and it might be a good thing that we have been on tour as things have come to a head. We have generated our own energy. What happens after the tour, we can’t control it. Luckily, it is all 4,000 miles away and I am thrilled with the energy in the team.”

Dobson was further probed on whether he has had any further communication from SA Rugby over the union’s future.

“The communication that I have had from SA Rugby is just to concentrate on Friday’s game. We will pick up the nitty-gritty of it next week,” Dobson said. “The message that came to me was: keep the team up and keep them focused on Friday because there is nothing to worry about in terms of our future.

“They literally said just to focus on the game and that is what my job is meant to be. This has been the only communication, there has been nothing of any detail. ”

Photo: Luca Sighinolfi/INPHO/Shutterstock 

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Dylan Jack