CAPETOWN – “The sh** people don’t see.” That’s what it comes down to for new Stormers coach John Dobson.
Dobson, who is the man who will be steering the Cape’s Super Rugby title hopes from next year, believes team culture is as important as any technical or tactical aspect when it comes to getting the most out of your team.
“Dobbo” summarised his coaching philosophy by focusing on the “no-talent” stuff, referencing English club Saracens’ set of values - which incorporates work rate, discipline, honesty and humility, or “TSPDS” as they call it, which translates into ‘the sh** people don’t see’.
It’s public knowledge that the game has largely shifted into a common direction. Even European teams now offer more than just solid forward-oriented play, which makes finding an edge more important than ever.
“It’s hard to see the difference between teams nowadays, every team is technically, tactically and conditioning-wise the same, even size-wise, they’re largely the same. It’s hard to see the difference.
That’s why I focus on team culture. I think guys who enjoy their job do it better,” Dobson said. “I try to bring an element of fun. I focus a lot on team environment, and if the guys are decent people in that they’re not always on their phones and they focus on the team, they will play for each other.
I obsess over the shape of the team. Like, are the same guys sitting at breakfast together, do we have a clique or not. So I won’t do a compulsory team social ...doesn’t help if the guys are on their phones the whole time. If it’s voluntary you’re probably going to win a trophy because they want to be around each other. So that’s my main focus.
‘Saracens call it “the sh** that people don’t see’. If you love your coach and the guy next to you and team and the environment that you’re in, you’ll do better.”
South African rugby, as a collective, are facing a major talent exodus after the World Cup. And Dobson says the union’s player retention will be key come the 2020 Super season.
“I think it’s a major threat for South African rugby. If you look at it, the Stormers’ average age 10 years ago probably would have been 26, 27 28, now you’re looking at 22, 23. You’re going to lack key decision-makers and key experience and that’s going to be poor for the whole tournament,” he said. Dobson will also coach the Western Province Currie Cup team this year, after leading them into the final last season.
“I think for once where WP and the Stormers have done pretty done well ... touch wood ... I think we should have the highest retention of our squad.
“That should give us no excuse not to win the conference or do very well. It gives me lot of excitement that guys like Siya (Kolisi) and Pieter-Steph (du Toit) are all staying and we hear what the other franchises are doing ... I think it’s a massive opportunity for the Stormers.”@WynonaLouw