Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global
NZ NZ

John Dobson gives brutal assessment of Stormers' 'extremely poor' tour

By Simon Thomas
Ben Loader of DHL Stormers during the United Rugby Championship match between Munster and DHL Stormers at Thomond Park in Limerick. (Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

John Dobson is one of the cheeriest, most upbeat figures in the game, so when he cuts a dejected figure you know times are challenging.

ADVERTISEMENT

It was all smiles for much of the DHL Stormers’ first two seasons in the BKT URC, with Dobson’s team reaching back-to-back finals.

But now they have hit their first major bump in the road – or on the road to be precise – losing four successive matches away from home, against Glasgow Warriors, Benetton, Munster and Cardiff Rugby.

Video Spacer

Video Spacer

It’s left them down in twelfth in the table and there was no disguising Dobson’s disappointment as he spoke at the Arms Park following Friday night’s 31-24 defeat to Cardiff Rugby.

“It’s been a poor tour for us and – as our skipper Brok Harris said in the changing room – we all need to have a look at ourselves at what we could have done better right the way through.” he said.

“The two games we probably identified to win – Benetton and Cardiff – we chucked away, which is very disappointing.

“As a collective, we haven’t done ourselves any favours on our tour. I don’t think the competition thinks more of us, I don’t think some of the players or staff feel as good about themselves as we did.

ADVERTISEMENT

“When we came on tour, we were hoping to get two wins and we haven’t got any.”

Dobson had been in buoyant mood going into the game, saying how much he had been encouraged by the performance in the 10-3 defeat to Munster and talking about his fondness for Welsh rugby.

And it looked as though he was going to have further reason for optimism as the Stormers raced into a 14-0 lead after just 12 minutes at the Arms Park.

Evan Roos
Evan Roos reacts to the Stormers loss. Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Even though Cardiff fought back, Dobson’s men were still 24-14 up with less than half an hour to go and seemingly on course to end their European tour on a winning note.

ADVERTISEMENT

But it wasn’t to be, as the hosts drew level and then clinched a dramatic victory with a try deep in stoppage time from replacement prop Rhys Litterick.

“Cardiff played with real fight, but we were extremely poor,” said Dobson.

“For us to give seven scrum put-ins in the second half just through losing the ball in contact or by knocking on is not good enough at BKT URC level. There was some pretty careless handling.

“We seemed to just want to make Hail Marys all the time. It was a really poor performance by us in that respect.

“We pride ourselves on our defence, but we are hurting because it wasn’t our best defensive performance by any stretch. We gave too many yards, we gave them space on the outside, they got round us, we didn’t work hard enough for a couple of their tries.

Related

“Other than the set-piece, it was a really poor performance –  defence, attack, the contestable game, the kicking game.

“I didn’t expect us to play like that, I must say. That wasn’t a pleasant experience.

“It was by far our worst performance on this trip. It was a very disappointing way to finish the tour and a disappointing tour.”

What the losing run has done however is confirm Dobson’s growing belief that the BKT URC is the toughest it’s ever been right now.

“I feel it’s even more competitive this season, very much so,” said the 54-year-old.

“Everywhere you look, there’s a fixture or two that you can’t predict. I get the feeling no-one is going to pull away.

“We are all in a dogfight, there’s no question.”

Dobson has said the Stormers’ theme for this campaign is to be the hunters, with a nod to South African culture.

When it’s put to him they really have to do some hunting down now, he quips they are going to starve unless they improve.

On a serious note, he acknowledges there is a real need to turn things around, starting with next Saturday’s Round 7 fixture against Zebre Parma at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch.

“We are certainly not off to a cracking start,” he admitted.

“Four defeats at this stage is a lot if you want to get to the sharp end of the competition, so we have got a lot of work to do.

“We will have some personnel back, we will play some games at home – we have had five games on the road – and we will start putting together some much better performances.”

Dobson admits the pressure is on given the success the Stormers have enjoyed in their first two seasons in the BKT URC.

“If we don’t make at least a semi-final, we are going to feel terrible,” he said,

“We have created a rod to beat our own backs with. Reaching the semi-finals is the minimum target, but we want more than that ideally. Our goal is still to be back in the final.”

Dobson Munster Stormers verdict
(Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

It’s the second year in a row the DHL Stormers have lost at the Arms Park, having gone down by a near identical 30-24 scoreline in October 2022 when they were reigning champions.

“That was a seminal moment.” revealed Dobson.

“We had been unbeaten for something like 15 games and we lost. We saw Cardiff celebrating the way they did and we thought ‘Hang on, what’s this about?’.

“We realised it was because they had beaten the champions and we started to realise we were actually under pressure – teams wanted to raise themselves and beat us.

“It’s nice for us in a funny way, but it does make it a bit more stressful. We are a scalp now.”

It remains to be seen whether this season’s defeat at the Arms Park will prove an equally seminal moment as the FHL Stormers head home looking to get back on track.

Related

ADVERTISEMENT

Join free

Japan Rugby League One | Bravelupus v Eagles | Full Match Replay

Big Jim Show | Guinness Six Nations | England v Scotland

Vancouver SVNS - Day 2 - Full Replay

Vancouver SVNS - Day 1 - Full Replay

Life on Tour: 4

Wolfhounds v Clovers | Celtic Challenge 2024 | Full Match Replay

Boks Office | Jesse Kriel reveals the hardest team he had to play at the Rugby World Cup

Big Jim Walks and Talks with Handré Pollard

WHISTLEBLOWERS

Trending on RugbyPass

Comments

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free
ADVERTISEMENT

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

f
finn 4 hours ago
Why the world needs a reverse Lions tour

I think there’s a lot of reasons this wouldn’t work, but if we’re just proposing fun things how about a “World Series” held the june/july following a world cup. The teams competing each four years would be: the current world champions The Pacific Islands The British & Irish Lions The World XV Barbarians FC to ensure all teams are fairly evenly matched, the current world champions would name their squad first; then The Pacific Islands would name next, and would be able to select any pacific qualified players not selected by the world champions, including players already “captured” by non-pacific nations who would otherwise have been eligible for selection (eg. Bundee Aki); the Lions would select next; and then The World XV and Barbarians FC would be left to fight over anyone not selected. Some people will point out that 5 teams is too many for a mid-year round robin, particularly as it would be nice to have a final as well; and they would be right! But because we’re just having fun here we’re going to innovate an entirely new format for rugby, where the round robin is played in one stadium over the course of one day, with each game lasting just 40 minutes with no half time or change of ends. The round robin decides the seedings for the knockouts, which are contested by all 5 teams in one stadium over the course of one day, according to the following schedule: Knockout Round 1: seed 5 v seed 4 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Quarter Final: winner of Round 1 v seed 3 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Semi Final: winner of Quarter Final v seed 2 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Final: winner of Semi Final v seed 1 (played as a standard 80 minute rugby match) for the round robin, teams would name a 15 man starting lineup and a 16 man bench. Substitutions during games can only be made for injuries, but any number of substitutions can be made between games. The same rules apply for the finals, except that we return to having a regular 8 man bench, and would allow substitutions as normal during the 80 minute final.

12 Go to comments
S
Simon 6 hours ago
Is the Six Nations balance of power shifting?

There are a few issues with the article. Despite somehow getting to a RWC semi final, England are nowhere near Probable status and should be swapped with Scotland on current form. France’s failure at RWC 23 has massively hit their mindset. Psychologically, they need a reset of gigantic proportions otherwise they will revert to, Top 14 first, international rugby an afterthought again. Ireland are allowed to play the way they are by less than acceptable officiating. Make no bones about it, with Easterby coaching, Ireland cheat, they break the rules at almost every facet of the game and generally referees, influenced by the media that Ireland are somehow playing the best rugby in the world, allow them. Scrums - Porter never pushes straight and immediately turns in. The flankers lose their binds and almost latch on to the opposition props. Rucks - they always and I mean always clear out from the side and take players out beyond the ball, effectively taking them out of being ready for the next phase. Not once do green shirts enter rucks from the rear foot. Referees should be made to look at the video of the game against Wales and see that Irish backs and forwards happily enter rucks from the side to effect a clearout, thus giving them the sub 3 second ruck speed everybody dreams about. They also stand in offside positions at rucks to ‘block’ opposing players from making clear tackles allowing the ball carrier to break the gainline almost every time. They then turn and are always ahead of play and therefore enter subsequent rucks illegally. Mauls - there is always a blocker between the ball catcher and the opposition. It is subtle but it is there. Gatland still needs to break the shackles and allow his team a bit more freedom to play rugby. He no longer has a team of 16 stone plus players who batter the gainline. He has to adapt and be more thoughtful in attack. Scotland are playing well but they have the creaky defence that leaks tries.

24 Go to comments
TRENDING
TRENDING Ben Gollings has degraded Fiji sevens squad claims ex wing Ben Gollings has degraded Fiji sevens squad claims ex wing
Search