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Why is local no longer lekker in the Cape?

Confirmation that New Zealander John Mitchell has already been in Cape Town for an interview makes it clear that local is no longer lekker for those who run the game in Cape Town.


They are obviously determined to replace Japan-based Allister Coetzee – the Springbok coach-elect – with an import.Why is local no longer lekker in the Cape?

Australian Eddie Jones was already signed and was 'unveiled', but he made an about-turn and accepted England's offer to coach their national team.

John Plumtree, another Kiwi, was also courted by the Newlands-based franchise, before they actively started pursuing Mitchell – twice. He turned them down once and apparently they have now agreed to HIS terms.

Just as Coetzee's appointment at the national team is one of the worst-kept secrets, Mitchell's commission is also a fait accompli.

For a franchise where the 90-odd clubs still hold sway – and have already blocked a game between English champions Saracens and French giants Biarritz from taking place at the Cape Town stadium – the decision to actively search for a 'foreign' coach is a huge about-turn.

It is a massive slap in the face for the mountain of talented local coaches that are in the system and waiting for their opportunity.


The Stormers are not the first to obsess with New Zealand's coaching skills.Why is local no longer lekker in the Cape?

Europe is littered with them – including Six Nations teams like champions Ireland (Joe Schmidt), Wales (Warren Gatland) and Scotland (Vern Cotter).

England have just appointed their first foreign coach, Aussie Eddie Jones.

But is this the right way to go in South Africa, and more particularly at the Stormers?


There is no doubt Mitchell is a quality coach, with substantial success at both international level (82 percent success rate at the All Blacks) and Super Rugby level. His personality clashes – with both players and officials – are just as well documented, just read his biography.

But what would make him a better fit that the South Africans (or Capetonians) on offer?

Gert Smal, the current CEO, has an equally impressive coaching CV – which includes stint with the Springboks, Ireland and Stormers. And he is a local in every fibre of his body.Why is local no longer lekker in the Cape?

John Dobson has come through the local ranks – success with the University of Cape Town, Western Province Under-20, Vodacom Cup and (less that two months ago) a losing Currie Cup finalist. Is he too young? What is too young or too inexperienced?

Same goes for Robbie Fleck, who has been a right-hand man for Dobson at UCT, while he has worked alongside Coetzee with WP and the Stormers.

The so-called experts say Brendan Venter doesn't want the head coach's position. But it wouldn't hurt to have him involved in an 'advisory' capacity – where he has achieved great success with, amongst others, the Sharks. He has also done extensive work with the SA Under-20 team.

The list of local options go on – Paul Treu, Sean Erasmus, Jerome Paarwater, Carel du Plessis, Peter de Villiers, Dawie Theron, Eugene Eloff and Nick Mallet.

Not all of them may be available, but it is also a fact that the Stormers have made no attempt to approach any of them.

If they have, they managed to keep that secret better than they did in concealing their efforts to lure Mitchell to Cape Town.

This is not about the merits of Mitchell. I am just wondering why the locals have had their pathway blocked?

Jan de Koning



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