Stormers’ roster ideal for Eddie

2015-11-13 12:01
Eddie Jones

Cape Town – The 2016 Super Rugby fixture list for Eddie Jones in his new capacity as Stormers head coach could hardly have been shaped better on paper, suggesting a good prospect that he hits the ground running.

Just for one thing, he has a suitably atmospheric maiden assignment as first non-South African mastermind of the franchise when traditional arch-rivals from the north, the Bulls – also under a new coach in Nollis Marais – visit Newlands for a season-opening derby on February 27.

It will be a tough assignment against a Pretoria-based side slowly rebuilding toward former glories and determined to evolve their playing style with some sparkling young backline talent, but will nevertheless quickly give Jones an idea of the depth of regional passions in this country.

All of the first three Stormers games in the revamped competition are derbies, given that they next play the Cheetahs away (March 5) and then tackle the Sharks back in the shadow of Table Mountain on March 12.

But the team’s first few games against overseas foes ought to suit Jones down to the ground.

Very fittingly, the Stormers open their account against foreign-based opponents in round four when the Brumbies comes to the Cape on March19 – the side from Canberra will always be renowned for becoming a true force to be reckoned with under Jones’s guiding hand between 1998 and 2001.

After a hesitant start, the  now 55-year-old steered them to the runners-up berth in 2000, and then to a first-time title win a year later, before he took charge of the Australian national team.

Of course it has been all-change since then from a personnel point of view, but Jones will still have useful memories of the Brumbies’ “culture”.

Just as handily, when the Stormers tackle the freshly-created Sunwolves franchise at Newlands in game six for them, their coach will hardly be short of knowledge on some of their playing staff and likely tactical arrangements, given his intimate involvement in Japanese rugby both from two stints with Suntory Sungoliath and his celebrated 2012-15 tenure as the national coach there – including a rousing RWC 2015 campaign by the supposed minnows a few weeks ago.

The next overseas side facing the Stormers, again in Cape Town, will be the Reds, another franchise Jones coached briefly, in 2007.

This will also be the year under the new 18-team system – the situation will alternate annually – when his charges only encounter Australian rather than New Zealand conference sides in the ordinary-season phase.

That is also a development not unfavourable to the Stormers, given the firm supremacy of the NZ sides in 2015 and the fact that the final was also an all-New Zealand affair.

In addition, eight of the 15 ordinary-season Stormers matches are at home, with just seven away engagements (four off them outside South Africa).

This is the team’s pre-quarter finals itinerary for Jones’ keenly-awaited maiden season in charge:

February 27: Bulls (h)

March 5: Cheetahs (a)

March 12: Sharks (h)

March 19: Brumbies (h)

March 26: Argentine team (a)


April 8: Sunwolves (h)

April 16: Lions (a)

April 23: Reds (h)

April 30: Waratahs (h)


May 14: Sunwolves (a)

May 21: Bulls (a)

May 28: Cheetahs (h)

June Test window

July 2: Rebels (a)

July 9: Force (a)

July 16: Kings (h)

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    stormers  |  eddie jones  |  rugby

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