Stormers director of rugby eyes place at top table

NEWLY appointed Stormers director of rugby John Dobson. | BackpagePix

NEWLY appointed Stormers director of rugby John Dobson. | BackpagePix

Published Apr 6, 2024


THERE won’t be any splash of cash to bolster the Stormers with big-name players now that they have secured private funding to get them out of their financial troubles.

But the new job of director of rugby John Dobson is to make sure that the pipeline feeding the squad is as healthy as possible and then bolster the team with a signing or three to keep them at the top.

Red Disa Investments was recently ratified as the new majority owner of the Stormers, and Dobson, current head coach of the Stormers, was promoted to director but will still be in charge of the inaugural United Rugby Championship (URC) champions in their European competitions.

RDI pumped money into the cash-strapped private arm of the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) and it will allow the Stormers to make some new acquisitions but also improve their pipeline looking towards the future.

“I won’t be your classic step back and be in the office guy,” Dobson said about his new role.

“I really want to stay close to the team. This is my core job. I think if one doesn’t do that, there is a danger that the environment can change. We have a very nice environment at the moment, so I want to take responsibility for that. There will be people to help with the pathways, so my role won’t practically change.

“But we want to be at the top table of world rugby. Leinster, La Rochelle, Toulouse, we want to sit at that table. The top 10 or top five, that is where we want to go.

“But we’re not going to go out and buy ‘Galacticos’.”

While the investment won’t be spent on buying Springboks and other stars, Stormers confirmed yesterday the return of prop Steven Kitshoff from Ulster and former Stormers player JD Schickerling as another No 5 lock option.

The Stormers also need a back-up flyhalf to Manie Libbok and youngster Jurie Matthee, while a deputy at inside centre when Damian Willemse and Dan du Plessis are not available is desperately needed.

But with the talent in the region, the Cape side won’t be understaffed going forward, and they will be able to retain core players in the squad to keep them among the top teams in the URC and Champions Cup.

“This organisation is in a healthy environment thanks to the investment,” said Dobson.

“We have a big club here for the people of Cape Town. It is not Red Disa’s or mine or the players’. But in terms of support, it’s massive. There is no reason why we can’t be up there. We need to be there. The Crusaders did it with the same type of players’ base. Leinster has built a very good model and we can learn from how they run it.

“We have a very good board and it’s probably something we needed. They are not easy people, but they wouldn’t be such successful business people if they were.

“Those days of me fudging numbers to get this guy or that one is over. Mick (Dawson, one of the partners) was at the helm of Leinster when they came from the middle of the competition to four European Cups. That is massive expertise and useful.”