Jimmy Stonehouse says the indecision of the Bulls board forced him to withdraw from the race for the vacant head coach post. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
Stonehouse was one of several candidates linked as a possible replacement to take over from John Mitchell as Bulls boss. On Monday, however, it was confirmed that he had ruled himself out of contention, opting instead to stay on in his dual role as Pumas director of rugby and head coach.
Stonehouse told SARugbymag.co.za that the Bulls are taking too much time to make the appointment and that has led to his withdrawal.
‘About 10 weeks ago, I had a call from the Bulls informing me that there might be a coaching opportunity for me at the union,’ said Stonehouse. ‘During that conversation, I was asked if I could get out of my contract with the Pumas. I’ve waited my whole life for an opportunity like that, so I said yes.
‘On 31 August, the day the Pumas hosted Western Province, both Pieter Burger [Pumas CEO] and I informed the board of our intention to apply for the Bulls jobs, Pieter for the Bulls CEO position and I for the head coach one. We discussed it with the board because we didn’t want them to find out via the media.
‘Since then there had been no communication from the Bulls, but last Monday I received another call to inform me that an advisory panel has been tasked with appointing the head coach and that my name is definitely on the shortlist.’
Stonehouse got the impression that the Bulls aren’t yet sure of whether they are looking for a director of rugby – Mitchell’s official title – or just a Super Rugby head coach.
‘It’s 10 weeks later and the Bulls still don’t know what structure they are going to follow, they don’t know if it’s a director of rugby or if it’s a head coach. And to me it seems they already have someone specific in mind for the job, otherwise they would have made haste with the appointment,’ he said.
‘They haven’t done that yet and the fact they are now also reportedly waiting to hear from foreign coaches shows me that this is going to take a while longer before it is finalised.
‘The one thing I want to state is that I understand why the Bulls are taking their time with this appointment. It’s a very important job and they cannot make that decision lightly. But I can’t tell the Pumas to wait and then it’s not even me they [the Bulls] appoint,’ Stonehouse explained.
The 54-year-old said that uncertainty would have been unfair on the Pumas.
‘Obviously, that would be unfair. I couldn’t keep stringing the Pumas along while I wait for news from the Bulls. If I were to join the Bulls, the Pumas would have wanted to start looking for a new coach by now in order to allow enough time for the new man to put his ideas down before next season.
‘Unfortunately, I couldn’t give them a straight answer on whether or not I am going and because of my loyalty to the union, I decided to stay.’
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