Gert Smal excited to be back home

March 31, 2014
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Gert Smal 16/4/2004DHL Newlands has been his home before, but the internationally renowned and experienced Gert Smal is relishing the opportunity to once again call Cape Town his rugby home.

Smal was on Monday unveiled as Western Province Rugby’s new Director of Rugby – effective from April 1 – a role which will see him head up rugby matters in the Union from Under-13 right up until the DHL Stormers team.

Smal’s role is not a hands-on coaching one, but one that will help guide and advise the senior professional coaches as well as ensure that WP Rugby’s recruitment policy and development of its players continues to drive the union forward.

“WP is a vibrant and diverse Union and arguably the most talented union in the country, with teams from Under-13 right up to the Under-21s winning trophies last year,” said Smal on Monday.

“I’ve played and coached here before, I have nothing but fond memories of my time here. It’s also great to be back in Cape Town after a long time away. Our fans are well-known for their unrivalled support and I look forward to drawing on that loyalty and passion to ensure that DHL Newlands remains a rugby fortress for the DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province teams.

“I would need the support of the various management teams, the players, administrators and other key role-players in order for WP Rugby to be successful. Sometimes tough decisions need to be made and a unified vision and support is crucial in this process.

“This is obviously an exciting opportunity for me and a challenge I look forward to.”

Speaking further about his role as WP Rugby’s Director of Rugby, Smal explained: “This is not a hands-on coaching position, and not just about the senior teams, it’s a position that encompasses the strategic rugby role of WP Rugby – from the juniors right up until the senior professional teams.

“In terms of the senior team, specifically, my job is to add to the strategies and ethos of WP Rugby and to ensure that we remain a leading union and continue to push for trophies and continue developing international players too. I want to create an environment here that gives all players a deep and lasting career desire to play their rugby in the Western Province.

“I believe that Western Province Rugby has taken giant steps forward in certain areas whilst I have been away – both on and off the field,” added Smal.

“Certain structures are already in place, starting with our home training base, the High Performance Centre in Bellville, the School of Excellence, the WP Rugby Institute in Stellenbosch and our new Academy set-up in Tokai.

“We also have vibrant club and schools competitions and the WP Rugby structures continue to produce players of quality. In the last two years, Eben Etzebeth, Duane Vermeulen, Siya Kolisi and Frans Malherbe have become full Springboks and Scarra Ntubeni and Louis Schreuder have toured with the Boks. We are producing young talent, with ten SA Schools players being part of our 2014 WPRI intake, and we’re producing new Springboks too… part of my role here will be to ensure that I build on that base.

“Comercially, I also believe that WP Rugby is exceptionally well positioned with huge corporate support from some truly global players like DHL, Land Rover, adidas, Tsogo Sun, Powerade and SAB, not to mention a huge amount of other partners and suppliers.”

Whilst Smal considers himself a WP Rugby man through and through with back to back Absa Currie Cup wins in 2000 and 2001 and a Vodacom Super Rugby semifinal against the Crusaders in 2004, he believes his time away, which saw him serve as an assistant coach at international level with the Springboks and Ireland, has given him invaluable experience at the highest level and in some of toughest rugby competitions in the world.

His second stint in the Springbok set-up, between 2003 and 2007, saw him serve as an assistant coach to Jake White when the team tasted Tri-Nations (2004) and World Cup (2007) success.

Smal’s five-year stint with Ireland, under Declan Kidney, was also a successful time for him, with Ireland winning the Six Nations (and Grand Slam & Triple Crown) in 2009 and finishing top of their pool at the 2011 Rugby World Cup after they beat the Wallabies in the pool stages. Ireland’s 2009 triumph was the country’s first title in 24 years and their first Grand Slam since 1948.

“I have picked up crucial experience since my previous stint here – with the Springboks and Ireland, both of which are very different environments,” he told www.iamastormer.com.

“I have had the opportunity to coach world-class players and to work alongside – and coach against – renowned rugby brains. I have come back more experienced, as a coach and a person, and I firmly believe that I have a contribution to make at WP.”

Coaching career: Springbok assistant coach (1997, 2003-2007), Border head coach (1998-1999), Western Province head coach (2000-2005), Stormers head coach (2003-2005), Ireland assistant coach (2008-2013)
Playing career: Western Transvaal, Western Province, Springboks

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7 Comments

  1. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    March 31st, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Somehow I do not believe this is enough…..it’s a good start but more needs to change for this province to be up with the best again.

  2. avatar Stormer mal says:
    March 31st, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Yes Jacques we need a real backline coach a proper head coach and real scrumhalves

  3. avatar Stormer mal says:
    March 31st, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Yes Jacques we need a backline coach a competent head coach and scrumhalves

  4. avatar Americano says:
    March 31st, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    Encouraged by return of The Gert.
    Why?
    Seems like a competent affable fellow – great hair, why not?
    But more to the point perhaps this boxes out Brendan venter & channels him towards his destiny….
    CHEETAHS.
    Best of luck to Gert & company as they turn the aircraft carrier named “Stormers” around & in the right direction.

  5. avatar Aldo says:
    April 1st, 2014 at 7:04 am

    I see we might have Bakkies playing against Victor in the not to distant future, cant see Victor or the Bulls being to excited about that.

    Apparently Bakkies has been signed on loan by the Stormers and could be playing his first game allready against the Bulls when the Stormers face them when they get back from tour. Good signing for the Stormers with the amount of injuries they have.

  6. avatar Methos The French Stormer says:
    April 1st, 2014 at 8:26 am

    @Aldo:

    And the April’s fool winner is…. ALDO!!!

    Cheers

  7. avatar Morné says:
    April 1st, 2014 at 9:15 am

    From another article: “Smal wants them to play ‘WP’ rugby”…

    PR machine hard at work.

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