United Rugby Championship

John Dobson on WP boardroom drama: 'We've largely tried to immunise ourselves from that'

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John Dobson (Gallo)
John Dobson (Gallo)
  • The Stormers are adamant that SA Rugby's administrative takeover of the WPRFU will not negatively impact their URC campaign.
  • Coach John Dobson says they've done a good job at ignoring what's been going on off the field.
  • Captain Salmaan Moerat adds they're "100% focused" on Friday's clash against the Dragons in Newport.

Stormers coach John Dobson insists the union's boardroom drama is not adversely affecting their United Rugby Championship (URC) campaign.

SA Rugby announced on Tuesday that it was taking administrative control of the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU).

The governing body said in a statement that the advice was provided following a decision by its Executive Council (Exco) on Monday.

Experienced former SA Rugby CEO, Rian Oberholzer, has been appointed as an administrator and assumed oversight of the union's affairs immediately. His remit includes supervision of the operational affairs of Western Province (Pty) Ltd, which manages the professional playing teams of the Stormers and Western Province.

The Stormers face Welsh outfit Dragons in Newport on Friday and Dobson says he's not worried that their focus might lie elsewhere.

"The team is upbeat. I think they've had energy throughout the tour. As a team, we've largely tried to immunise ourselves from all that's been going on off the field. And I think we're doing a reasonably good job with it," Dobson told reporters in a virtual media briefing on Thursday.

Dobson admits the boardroom woes have played on his mind, but he's confident that the players aren't distracted.

"I was required to tell the players on Wednesday [but] the players just want to focus on rugby. As a coach, or the team's patron, I must say it's been a hell of a period... but we've really been disciplined in not getting involved. And it's maybe a good thing that we've been on tour as things have come to a head.

"We've sort of generated our own energy here and we're really just focusing on rugby. What happens over there... we can't control it, luckily it's 8 400 miles away and I'm thrilled with the energy in the team."

Stormers captain Salmaan Moerat echoed his coach's sentiments.

"We're 100 percent focused on the game. There hasn't been much chat about any business about the boardroom, or anything above us. We've been solely focused on this tour and like Dobbo said, the energy's been really good," Moerat said.

With SA Rugby now effectively the team's new "superior", Dobson said the message from the governing body is that they should just focus on rugby.

"The communication that I've had from SA Rugby is just to concentrate on Friday's game, we'll pick up the nitty gritty of it next week. But the message that came to me strongly was 'keep the team up and focused on Friday, nothing to worry about the future'.

"And that's it, literally just focus on the game and that's what my job's meant to be, so that was the only communication, nothing of any detail."

The Stormers, meanwhile, will be looking to end their tour on a high, having started with losses to Benetton (22-18), Munster (34-18) and a 20-20 draw against Edinburgh.

The inclusion of debutant Junior Pokomela on the flank is the only change to the forward pack that started in the draw with Edinburgh last week.

There are five changes to the backline though.

The fit-again halfback pairing of Stefan Ungerer and Manie Libbok take their places in the starting line-up, along with centres Dan du Plessis and Ruhan Nel and wing Leolin Zas, who all started the week before against Munster.

Friday's clash at Rodney Parade kicks off at 20:35 (SA time).



15 Jordan Williams, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Jack Dixon, 12 Aneurin Owen, 11 Jordan Olowofela, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Ross Moriarty (captain), 5 Ben Carter, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Mesake Doge, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Greg Bateman

Substitutes: 16 Taylor Davies, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Chris Coleman, 19 Joe Davies, 20 Joe Maksymiw, 21 Ollie Griffiths, 22 Rhodri Williams, 23 Josh Lewis


15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Leolin Zas, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Junior Pokomela, 5 Salmaan Moerat (captain), 4 Ernst van Rhyn, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Brok Harris

Substitutes: 16 JJ Kotze, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Justin Basson, 20 Marcel Theunissen, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Juan de Jongh

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