Stormers coach John Dobson wants his Stormers of 2020 to be true to themselves and their supporters. He wants them to always reflect their #TrueColours, writes Mark Keohane in the Cape Times.
The Stormers, for so long have paraded as the people’s team. Now I believe they will become the people’s team, in the context of the Western Cape.
I had the pleasure of a catch up with Stormers coach John Dobson this week. I left convinced that finally there is a coach who simply gets this province, region and its people.
The Stormers, given the talent in the squad and the schedule for 2020, should be a top four candidate. Hell, they should have always been a top four candidate in the past 20-plus years of Super Rugby.
But speaking to ‘Dobbo’ I just got this amazing sense that success will not be in the top four placing but in what the Stormers actually represent to the people of the Western Cape.
Dobson comes from privilege. His words, not mine. Bishops schooled and UCT educated, he is in a minority percentage of haves in Cape Town.
Dobson also comes from that kind of stock, in which education is not confined to a classroom or a lecture hall. His father, Paul, is revered in rugby circles, but his father is also one of a few who had an appreciation that rugby was a game played by the city’s people and not an elite minority.
Young Dobson was schooled in the rugby history of the Green Point track as much as he was schooled with Kelvin Grove and Newlands. He gets it ladies and gents. He knows the totality of Western Cape rugby’s past and all he wants is for the future to represent the best of that past in totality. He wants a team that speaks to every culture, every colour, every religion and every non-religious rugby lover. He wants to build a squad that identifies with the city in which they live and in which the players are true to themselves.
Dobson, when chatting about the year ahead, spoke of his players being true to themselves because if they could do this, then they would be true to others, as human beings, as players and as the kind of guys you just want to hang with.
He is a coach who wants his players to connect with the community on a daily basis and not as an extension of a marketing and media campaign. He wants his players to be the best possible rugby players but more than that he wants them to be people whose lives didn’t start as professional rugby players.
‘True colours’ is how he described his squad and his ambition for 2020 and beyond. Dobson has a three-year contract with the option of a one-year extension, depending on results. He wants to be the first Stormers coach to win the competition, but his legacy, post his departure, is in how the Stormers are perceived by the people of the Western Cape.
He wants individuality. He wants recognition of class and culture and, mostly, suburb. If you are from Kuilsriver, celebrate it. Equally, Newlands, Langa, the Bo-Kaap or the Atlantic Seaboard. If you don’t drink alcohol, then great. If you do, then just understand occasion and be responsible.
He told me his players have to own their daily decisions and own their responsibility to this region as the best rugby players in the region.
He wants people to get to Newlands next year and the Cape Town Stadium in 2021 because they identify and love those who wear the jersey. The support has to be more than just a winning result.
The Stormers, he told me, are about the many magnificent characters who will make up the squad and management. The Stormers, he added, are about the equally magnificent people of the region who support these players.
Dobson wants to be accountable for making sure that the Stormers, win or lose, are true to their colours.
When he talks, it is about integrity and about character. He talks #TrueColours
If 1999 was the year of the ‘Men in Black’, then 2020 is about a different colour … it is about a ‘True Colour’.