Stormers: There was nothing we could do

2015-11-20 14:10
Gert Smal (Gallo)

Cape Town - Western Province president Thelo Wakefield perhaps summed the whole Eddie Jones situation up best on Friday. 

"Nobody in South Africa can compete with the Pound," he said bluntly. 

In rugby circles, that is certainly true.

Wakefield spoke about Jones' decision to leave the Stormers just two weeks into his three-year contract, and while he was naturally disappointed with how it all played out, he acknowledged that there was little he could have done.

"We met with Eddie on Wednesday at 16:15 and he explained his position to us," said Wakefield.

"We accepted what he said and we wished him well. There was no way we could stop him or match the RFU's (England Rugby Football Union) offer.

"It is a massive disappointment for us. We looked forward to a new approach and new ideas.

"I was quite pleased when the director of rugby (Gert Smal) presented me with the contract ... I felt that we had landed a big fish at Western Province and the Stormers.

"And then the English offer came up, and one must be very honest, it was an offer that he could not refuse. We felt that we would not stand in his way."

The rumours surrounding Jones' move to England had been circulating even before Stuart Lancaster stepped down as coach, and Western Province director of rugby Gert Smal said that he had approached Jones as soon as he could after hearing the inner-circle mutterings. 

"When I heard it I went immediately to speak to him about it and he said to me clearly that he was with the Stormers and I think at the press conference as well that’s exactly what he said," Smal said.

"He got this opportunity ... a once in a life-time opportunity. It’s an opportunity for him to get a four-year contract and see if he can win the World Cup. I think those were the things that drove him."

Smal added that he felt "bitter-sweet" about long-time friend Jones landing the England job, but that he believed the decision was less about money than it was being given the opportunity to win the World Cup.

"One thing I am sure of is that under him England are going to be a real powerhouse in 2019," he said.

Read more on:    stormers  |  super rugby  |  eddie jones  |  cape town  |  rugby

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