What now for woeful Stormers?

July 14, 2014
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Stormers

Stormers

The Stormers’ Super Rugby regression will continue unabated in the years ahead if not for decisive intervention, write RYAN VREDE from SARugbymag.co.za

Four short years ago they were losing finalists. Just two years ago they topped the log and lost in the semi-final to the Sharks. In 2014 they finished 11th, having lost nine out of 16 matches and, more tellingly, lost any aura of being a formidable opponent.

They’ve recruited Gert Smal to assist in halting the slide to mediocrity. On the early evidence of his influence, he has only managed to slow it, and even then, not significantly so. Their attack has been terminally crocked, and while they used to be able to boast about their excellent defensive structures, they are now 11 tries worse off than what they were at the end of their tournament last season. A clutch of key players are either injured or on the brink of catastrophic injury (Duane Vermeulen being just one example in the latter category) because of being overplayed. Players like Siya Kolisi and Jaco Taute have stalled in their development. There are gifted youngsters coming through the system but none who will make an immediate impact. The future looks bleak.

It’s frightening how far the franchise has slipped in four years. The departure of Rassie Erasmus hastened the decline. He implemented excellent structures on and off the field and cast the vision for a bright future. The void he left hasn’t been adequately filled.

The loss of senior players to foreign clubs has been another contributing factor. I appreciate the difficulty in countering foreign contracts, but the Stormers’ player retention has been poor, even in the context of that. So too their talent identification in age-group levels and in the senior ranks, the latter seeing average players like Elton Jantjies and Michael Rhodes become Stormers regulars.

Head coach Allister Coetzee will point to an injury list from hell in the period in discussion as a mitigating factor in their decline. However, even sides ravaged in the manner they have been have shown that while it does compromise your ability to win regularly against elite sides, it should not render you a soft target. The Stormers have become just this due to their failure to grow their game. This speaks to the limitations of their coaching staff, and those limitations are significant.

The Western Province Rugby Union has vehemently batted away any questions about the future of its coaching staff, declaring its support despite the franchise finding itself trapped in a maze of mediocrity. Indeed any media criticism of its coaches or the team’s performances have been seen as treachery of the highest order. I’ve heard more than one journalist tell me about taking calls from WP HQ intended to scare them into line. I ignored that call. Seven times. And I expect to ignore another series of calls once this column circulates at Newlands.

They appear happy to marinate in this mediocrity, rejecting outside perspectives on their performance and forecasts of their future. Coetzee looks set to continue in his role indefinitely, when he and his assistants’ ongoing value should be seriously assessed. I can’t see any objective review process finding them suitable to continue.

A semi-final finish or Currie Cup victory will be pointed to as vindication for sticking with Coetzee and co. Yet finishing as semi-finalists or victors in a competition that has been seriously diluted shouldn’t be a measure of any ambitious Super Rugby side. The South African Super Rugby challenge needs a powerful Stormers contribution. At present, it’s getting a tame one and will continue to as long as the men in power refuse to take decisive action.

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18 Comments

  1. avatar Bekke says:
    July 14th, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Agree 100% with signing average players. We had a few good youngsters coming through, but with too many has-beens or never-beens that will never take the step up (including coaches and management), we are doomed to be bottom feeders for quite a while.

  2. avatar Duiwel says:
    July 14th, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    Fksakes-they were sliced bread yesterday!!

  3. avatar Americano says:
    July 14th, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Most glaring “Huh?!?” was the signing or resigning of Taute.
    I am glad he was signed personally – for him & that may be the way Stormers carry on – if so I applaud them for their loyalty / human-ness.
    But given this is a craven professional sport environment ( as typified by the ultimate of sporting evil – Zee bulls)
    I doubt that’s what the Stormers were thinking.
    I really think they thought Taute had the goods- and always had.
    It’s that SA size fetishism that when it works….well its supposed to – the numbers were right.
    When it doesn’t…You let guys like Messerschmitt-Willie go to Boland or Griquas or whatever cowboy town he was marooned to to pursue his destiny as the greatest SA back this millenium.

    I like Gert Smal so things can always get better. How can anyone NOT like a dude named Gert?

  4. avatar Mug Punters Organisation of South Africa says:
    July 15th, 2014 at 4:34 am

    One of the biggest unions in the world with some of the best talent and biggest supporter base and you cannot beat teams that you have more professional players than that city has people.

    Really kak man go fire yourself and the whole management too cos thats where the kak culture is bred. What a disgrace for such a Great Union.

    I got scorned as a turncoat when I ditched the Stormers for the Sharks over 10 years ago but I am not mad. Madness is turning up every year getting the same results and then thinking the next year will be better without any changes.

    I watched games at Newlands still got my streeptrui gathering dust but as longs as you dish out mediocrity my Boycott stands.

    Its time the WP faithfull got some balls and boycotted these clowns.

  5. avatar DavidS says:
    July 15th, 2014 at 9:00 am

    @Americano:

    In 2011 and 2012 at the Bulls Taute was definitely a rising star and on the way to being a Bok utility to replace Jacque Fourie…

    However as is always the case… two seasons in the Cape and he was as useless as any of their home grown players who stay there…

  6. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    July 15th, 2014 at 9:21 am

    @DavidS: At the Lions and he had a horrific injury most of last year and never got back after that….got nothing to do with Union….

    Administration is kak at WP as well as the coaching…biggest mistake is letting Rassie go….until they change the coach they will stay were they are….

    Whoever is in charge of WP talent finding needs to be hit with a “stomp byl tot hy bloei”….I hope this idiot is working for free for the union….. Too many wannabe players gets signed and not enough money is put towards keeping the real talent….

    But before you can start keeping real talent you should have people identifying the talent…which clearly nobody at WP can do.

    The koeksuster brotherhood in PTA knows how to spot the talent and even takes all the promising Maties and UCT players these days…..

    Money talks and bullshit walks and in WP young players can see the bullshit and choose to walk….and I do not blame them.

  7. avatar Bekke says:
    July 15th, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    And Mapoe was star in the making at Cheetahs – moved to Lions and Mr Also Run this season. Admin or just player attitude? Taute is one dimentional – like Daniller at Cheetahs. At best an average CC player (like what Jorrie should have stayed…)

  8. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    July 15th, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    @Bekke: :) On a roll…

  9. avatar Boertjie says:
    July 15th, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Take a look at the WP setup. 92 clubs, 84 dominantly
    brown.
    Then you’ll know who calls the shots and why
    Rassie was forced to leave.
    Check the SMS’s – not a day goes by without lots
    of racist vitriol being published, coming from
    the Cape Flats.

  10. avatar DavidS says:
    July 15th, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    @Jacques(Bunny):

    WRONG

    His “horrific injury” was AFTER he left the Lions following a starring role in the 2011 CC Final and 2012 SR. He got it during his time at the Stormers.

    @Bekke:

    WRONG.

    He started his career at Griquas, moved to the Bulls, then the Cheetahs and then the Lions.

    As jy met my wil speel mooet jy eers die game leer kindjie..

  11. avatar Americano says:
    July 15th, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Yes he was on rise at Lions that is why he went to stormers. Did very well for Lions but concensus opinion on that is it was mostly due to his tuteledge by Pony-Haired-Preacher Todd Clever.
    Actually now I think of it all Lions benefitted including coach…what was his name…elong or….oh I forget.

  12. avatar Bekke says:
    July 15th, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Yes Oom Boer, in Province the tail wags the dog with no front teeth

  13. avatar Americano says:
    July 16th, 2014 at 3:57 am

    Eugene Eloff…that was the Lions coach then.

  14. avatar Craven says:
    July 16th, 2014 at 8:12 am

    @Americano:

    “Most glaring “Huh?!?” was the signing or resigning of Taute – ”

    With all due respect Americano, we (WP) broke both Taute and Jantjies. They were great before they moved down here.

    Pat Cilliers and Michael Rhodes are only now coming into their own again, something about the Cape does not sit well with players imported from other provinces.

    Look at how much Habana has improved since he has had Heyneke back at the Boks, the guy is all of a sudden looking like he is back in the best form of his life, while for the Stormers he went through a bit of a lean patch for a while.

  15. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    July 16th, 2014 at 10:20 am

    @Craven: WP have shit, but you can not blame WP for players form, again I am saying Taute got an long injury just after joining WP and only started coming back this year and he is getting better but still far off.

    Jantjies did not fit into the useless coach gameplan end of story…
    Nothing was wrong with Habs form while playing for WP and Stormers, he was actually on of the best players for the Stormers. His form this year is to do that he did not play more than 6 games for his club due to injury so fresh and hungry.

    Players have as much responsibility on form as the useless coaching staff of WP. Me think they lie on the beaches to much…maybe on both :)

  16. avatar Morné says:
    July 16th, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Ever seen what happened when you keep on copying a document? The first copy of the original is usually pretty good, but if you make a copy of the copy, and a copy of that copy, and carry on doing this, the print of the document starts to fade quite badly to the point where you will struggle to read the original text and try and make stuff up as you go along.

    This is WP rugby. The copy of the original a couple of years ago has now faded to such an extent they cannot see the plan any more. With the added problem that they are not capable of developing a new one.

  17. avatar DavidS says:
    July 16th, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    @Americano:

    Carlos Spencer

  18. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    July 16th, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    @Morné: I see our friend Wakefield demands CC win or else? ……

    AC keeps his job?

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