Decorated international rugby coach, Eddie Jones, will take over the role as head coach of the Stormers at the start of the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby season. The former Wallabies head coach and 2007 World Cup-winning Springbok technical advisor will assume the Stormers coaching reins from Allister Coetzee, who moved to Japan after the Stormers’ SA Conference-winning 2015 Super Rugby campaign. WPRFU president Thelo Wakefield says: ‘Our Director of Rugby, Mr Gert Smal, always promised that he would deliver the best and in Eddie Jones I am more than satisfied that we have appointed the best coach to take over the reins of the DHL Stormers. Eddie is no stranger to South African Rugby and we look forward to making him feel welcome and ensuring that he brings more silverware to DHL Newlands.’
Having guided the ACT Brumbies to Super Rugby success back in 2001, Jones coached the Wallabies between 2001 and 2005 – delivering Tri-Nations and Bledisloe Cup success, as well as taking them to the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final on home soil. The 55-year-old will best be remembered by South African fans for his role in the Springboks’ 2007 Rugby World Cup triumph, while he has also previously held coaching roles with the Queensland Reds (in Australia), English club Saracens and Japanese outfit, Suntory Sungoliath. And just this weekend, Jones gave the rugby world a reminder of his abilities and tactical appreciation by guiding Japan to a shock 34-32 win over the Springboks in 2015 Rugby World Cup action in Brighton.
Speaking about Jones’s appointment, Gert Smal says: ‘As I said from the start (of our search for a coach), this has been a thorough process, which saw me look both internally and externally. Eddie was always on my mind in terms of potential external candidates and it’s a massive coup that we have signed a coach of his ability – really, his coaching credentials and achievements do speak for themselves. I really enjoyed our interactions and working with Eddie during the 2007 World Cup, he can add even more value here – both in terms of pushing for trophies and, importantly, in helping the continued development of our coaches and players.’
Jones commented: ‘I am a coach that enjoys a challenge and I see this job as a huge challenge, but one that excites me tremendously. Having worked with the Springboks in 2007, and in the process working closely with people like Gert Smal, Allister Coetzee, Jean De Villiers and Schalk Burger, it gave me a brief taste of what Stormers rugby and Western Cape rugby is all about. I am well aware of the responsibilities that come with this job, one of the biggest franchise jobs in world rugby, but I am also excited about the talent available in the DHL Stormers squad and the potential of this playing squad. This is a challenge I am looking forward to.’ Jones will arrive in Cape Town at the conclusion of his 2015 Rugby World Cup commitments with Japan’s national team.
Smal says: ‘We will get Eddie here as soon as we can after the Rugby World Cup, so he can get started with his 2016 preparations. He is obviously focusing on Japan’s World Cup campaign at present, where he has already made a significant impact, but we look forward to welcoming him here as soon as he is able to get here.’ Smal, meanwhile, also confirmed that Robbie Fleck (attack) and Paul Treu (defence) would remain in their respective Super Rugby roles, with a new senior forwards coach potentially on the union’s shopping list ahead of 2016. WP Rugby recently confirmed the signing of outstanding young Springbok lock Pieter-Steph Du Toit, as well as the retention of four young Springbok stars, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi and Damian De Allende on long-term deals.
New signings Jano Vermaak (scrumhalf) and JP Smith (prop) are already part of WP’s 2015 Currie Cup squad, while experienced loosehead prop JC Janse Van Rensburg and Springbok speedster Cornal Hendricks will join WP Rugby ahead of the Stormers’ 2016 Super Rugby season. Said Smal: ‘Our new Absa Currie Cup coaching team of John Dobson, Dawie Snyman, Paul Treu and Vlok Cilliers is working well together and Robbie Fleck has done very well in his new role as head coach of our Under-21 team. Having a guy like Eddie to learn from could only be a good thing for all of our coaches here at WP Rugby – from junior level upwards. Eddie’s appointment, along with our new player acquisitions – with more signings to still be revealed, is a clear sign of our intentions to challenge for Super Rugby silverware and to continue with our success in local competitions, both at senior and junior level.’