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Dobson: 'Maybe we shouldn't be relying on our character'

REACTION: Stormers coach John Dobson has implored his players to play to their true potential, rather than rely on ‘guts and glory’ to win matches,


Manie Libbok kicked three penalties as the Stormers edged Connacht 16-12 in a United Rugby Championship arm-wrestle in Galway at the weekend.

The win booked the Stormers’ place in the play-offs.

Dobson said from where they were – without a win after their four-match tour and sitting well outside the top 10 – the main goal was just to qualify for the play-offs.

Their Round 14 loss to the Ospreys (21-27) made the last few weeks very nerve-racking.

However, two away wins – 44-21 over the Dragons in Newport and 16-12 over Connacht in Galway – ensured they would feature in the play-offs.

“They were tough wins,” said of the two-match trip that ended at the Sportsground this past Saturday.


“It was tough conditions.

“These aren’t games we would’ve won a while ago. So it’s a nice feeling.

“It was tougher than we thought it was going to be, but it’s still a nice feeling.”

It was the Stormers’ now celebrated never-say-die character that again pulled them through in Galway Gale this past weekend.


However, the coach wants his team to start playing to their true potential in the play-offs, rather than fall back on the ‘guts and glory’ attitude.

“There’s a sub-narrative to that, because we are established now,” Dobson told @rugby365com, when asked about the nature of the win in Ireland.

“We’ve got guys who are two or three years in – like Manie Libbok and Damian Willemse.

“Maybe we shouldn’t be relying on our character as much as we do.

“We aren’t putting away teams like we should.”

He said relying on their renowned character is fine on occasion, but not all the time.

“Saying that, there is an amazing culture and work ethic across this group of players.

“Connacht were playing the last game at home and they had to win it.

“Their stands are getting pulled down [as part of a revamp of the stadium.”

Construction on a new High-Performance Centre and North Stand at the stadium began earlier this year.

Work on the HPC started in March, with the North Stand set to be replaced now that their home fixtures are completed.

The new HPC is expected to be completed by March 2025.

The new North Stand will replace the existing Clan Terrace and will feature state-of-the-art facilities – after the demolition of the Clan Terrace and Clubhouse, and is expected to be completed during the 2025-26 season.

“There was a lot of emotional stuff before the game,” he said of the revamping, adding: “And with people who had passed away.”

They say defence is about attitude and the Stormers showed plenty of that – with their 197 tackles (almost twice the number Connacht made) at a 92 percent success rate epitomises that.

“For us to defend like that is not something we coach, it’s in the group,” Dobson told @rugby365com.

“There is a very special caring for each other, to make Cape Town smile and be proud.

“It’s frustrating that it’s a game that is so close, but at the end how we shut it down speaks volumes of the character of this team.”

The Stormers, who can’t finish higher than fifth and lower than seventh, complete their league fixtures when they host the Lions in Cape Town on June 1.

Then they hit the road in the quarterfinals – against opponents to be determined in Round 18.



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