John Dobson confirmed as new Stormers Coach

John Dobson confirmed as new Stormers Coach

The Stormers have confirmed that John Dobson will replace Robbie Fleck as the Stormers head coach at the end of the 2019 season.


Fleck’s contract will expire at the end of October with Dobson reportedly turning down roles within South Africa and abroad to stay at the franchise.

Stormers director of rugby Gert Smal is also set to leave the union in March to join former Springbok coach Jake White in Japan. Smal has been lined up as White's replacement as head coach of Toyota Verblitz after the World Cup with the club already confirming the signings of Springbok fullback Willie Le Roux from Wasps and All Blacks captain Kieran Read. 

The Stormers confirmed the news in a press release stating that both Fleck and Dobson will work closely with Western Province Rugby Group CEO Paul Zacks and high-performance manager Greg Hechter to build a strong playing squad for 2020 and beyond with the contracting of players beyond 2019 will begin once the new SA Rugby contracting model parameters have been finalised.

In addition to ensuring the Stormers’ success on the field, one of Dobson’s key focus areas will be driving transformation in the future coaching and management teams.

‘There is a clear succession and development plan now in place and the opportunities created within the new structure will put us in a stronger position going forward,’ said Zacks.

The changes to the DHL Stormers management in 2019 have seen Riefaat Jappie (Strength and Conditioning Coach), Norman Laker (Defence Coach), and Dawie Snyman (Assistant Coach - Backs) come into the set-up. They join Head Coach Robbie Fleck, Russell Winter (Assistant Coach - Forwards), Human Kriek (Technical Analyst) and Team Manager Chippie Solomon in the DHL Stormers management for the 2019 Vodacom Super Rugby campaign.

Jappie has come through the system having first joined WP Rugby five years ago on an internship, while Laker and Snyman have both proven themselves over a number of seasons with DHL Western Province and as a result have been integrated into the DHL Stormers management this season as part of the succession planning. Snyman will work closely with Paul Feeney, who will still be involved with coaching the team’s skills and exits, to ensure a smooth transition once the New Zealander finishes his contract in Cape Town at the end of the current Vodacom Super Rugby season.

The re-deployment of Laker and Snyman from the 2018 SuperSport Rugby Challenge management creates an important pathway and opportunities for a new-look SuperSport Rugby Challenge coaching team.

The experienced Jerome Paarwater has been appointed as the new DHL Western Province Head Coach for the SuperSport Rugby Challenge and will be supported by Nazeem Adams (Assistant Coach - Backs), Rito Hlungwani (Assistant Coach - Forwards), Chris October (Defence Coach), Naasier Parker (Strength and Conditioning Coach), Elliot Hanabe (Technical Analyst) and Team Manager Cassiem Barnes.

“The new structure provides a foundation for a motivated and wholly transformed SuperSport Rugby Challenge coaching and management team and it is great to see our home-grown coaches step up and I look forward to seeing them perform at the elite level,” said Zacks.

While both the DHL Stormers and the DHL Western Province SuperSport Rugby Challenge teams will have their respective management teams, there will also be certain specialist coaches available to work with both sides in order to make the most of the coaching resources within WP Rugby. John Dobson (Breakdowns), Paul Feeney (Skills and Exits), Gareth Wright (Kicking) and, on a consultative basis, Hanyani Shimange will provide specialist input to both professional teams.

In order to supplement this and in line with international best practise, Paul Treu will provide further support by applying current and scientific knowledge to the planning and preparation of all teams in his new role of Performance and Innovation Manager.

"This new structure means that players will get more individual attention, while we continue to support and develop our coaches to build quality, motivated and transformed coaching and playing teams for the future," said Zacks.

Zacks thanked Smal for his invaluable contributions to Western Province Rugby through the years.

"It has been an absolute privilege to work with Gert Smal who has played such a big role here at WP both on and off the field for many years and he leaves with our very best wishes for his future,” he said.

Smal commented: “I would like to say thank you to the CEO and the Board for entrusting me over the years as Director of Rugby at Western Province. The decision to leave was not taken lightly. I wish only the best to all the coaches, the players and all the employees at WP and hope and trust that the franchise will go from strength to strength.”

Zacks said that this new structure is the result of a positive and constructive working relationship between the WPRFU Executive Committee (Exco) and the Company Board.

"We are all excited about the possibilities for the future. This could not have been achieved without the spirit of co-operation that has been shown off the field between the Exco and the Board," he added.

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