The wealthiest union in South African rugby conjured up the weakest return on Saturday. There can be no more charity at Newlands and the coaches need to know this.
It is unacceptable that a province of such playing numbers can lose 51-19 at home to the Sharks second stringers. The coaching is not good enough, the desire of Stormers discards to be frontline players in the Vodacom Cup team is absent and Director of Rugby Nick Mallett needs to shake things up. Mallett must find the solutions to a problem that has been ever present for the union when it comes to the Vodacom Cup. Players don’t seem to care about the competition and the coaching, over the years, has matched the ineptitude of the players.
To start with, the team should not be called Western Province. It is an insult to those who bled in the Currie Cup for a century and who fought for the right to play for Western Province. The Kwazulu-Natal Rugby Union refuses to give its second-stringers the provincial Sharks jersey in this tournament. The union created a new team, the Wildebeeste, to form an identity with the Vodacom Cup.
Province should do the same, although I could think of a few names that would not be too flattering. Whatever the description, just don’t call them Western Province and don’t let them play in that jersey. Stanley Raubenheimer has been given an opportunity and it is time to be ruthless with his performance evaluation.
The same is applicable to Kobus van der Merwe, Hawies Fourie, Jerome Paarwater and Gary Gold. Van der Merwe and Gold stumbled in the semi-finals of the 2005 Currie Cup season and blamed the inexperience of a young team for the defeat. Yet, four weeks into the Super 14, inexperience is a crutch that can take a coaching staff only so far. In their case, it is a crutch that is being relied on too often.
Team selections, game plan, substitutions and general squad mood are areas in which the coaching staff must front and the Stormers coaches are failing in every one of them. Even more depressing than the result against the Highlanders was the absolute lack of ambition in attack from the Stormers. They looked a clueless bunch whenever they won the ball and they are a team that has created nothing from structured play.
The basic application in the lineouts has been diabolical. Too much disco dancing from the locks, as Phil Kearns would say, and not enough composure. Schalk Brits, atrocious when it came to finding his jumpers, was again the most creative attacking player. He wears 2 but he should be wearing 12 or 13. Has anyone ever considered moving him into the backs? The Stormers certainly could do with a bit of creativity.
Van der Merwe must live or die by his selections. He choose the team and for the third successive week they have not been good enough to win against foreign opposition.
The Stormers, when you look at the draw, had the most favourable of all South African teams. Their toughest opponents had to travel to Cape Town, while their road trip has possibilities based on the inferiority of the opposition more than the strength of the Stormers. The draw could not have been kinder, yet the Stormers coaches and players have not delivered.
Close to a 100 000 people paid to watch them in the last three weeks. They owe these loyalists an apology.
Saturday was not just a bad day at the office; it was the first nail into the Stormers Super 14 campaign coffin for 2006.
Money doesn’t buy you happiness and in the Stormers case it doesn’t even buy you a home win.