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
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
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
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,
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
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).
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)
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