Stormers

Mallett’s position in the spotlight

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The mysterious ways of the administration at Newlands, the head-quarters of both Western Province and the Stormers, continues to take intriguing new twists and turns with every moving day.


And the next “surprise” is just around the corner, it seems.

Following revelations that new Springbok technical advisor Rassie Erasmus had now overtaken Alan Solomons on the coaching wish-list of the Stormers and WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd Board, there is now talk that Director of Rugby Nick Mallett could either be forced into a hands-on Super 14 coaching role or on his way out.

Reports in the Cape Town media on Friday that Erasmus had suddenly emerged as a strong candidate to coach the Stormers in next year’s Super 14, were quickly followed by the revelation that Mallett might well be asked to re-apply for his position.

The WP Rugby Board met on Friday to discuss, amongst other matters, the appointment of a new Stormers coach and Mallett’s position.

It is a well known fact that Mallett no longer enjoys the support of the majority of the WPRU and WP Rugby Board members and it has been suggested that some of Mallett’s former allies have now turned on him and are keen to see the back of him.

There has been a proposal to change the job description of the Director of Rugby, which would then require him (the Director of Rugby) to also coach the Stormers next year. It is, of course, an open secret that Mallett does not want to do any hands-on coaching, which could, perhaps, result in Mallett declining to re-apply when his contract expires later this year.

At the same time, however, Mallett – who coached the Boks between 1997 and 2000 – would be a shrewd appointment as Stormers head coach, given his success with the Boks and French club Stade Fran’ais, whom he coached to the French club title before returning to Cape Town. Mallett has always been in high demand in France and would not battle to land another high-profile coaching role in the country were he to leave SA.

Mallett’s favoured scenario, however, would be for him to remain as Director of Rugby, with Erasmus – who played in Mallett’s all-conquering Springbok team in 1997/98 – taking over as the new Stormers head coach.

These proposals were all put on the table in front of the Board.

What makes this interesting is that one of those members who will decide on Mallett’s future – i.e. what the job description of the Director of Rugby will be – is CEO Rob Wagner.

Wagner and Mallett, along with Jannie Durand (the CEO of VenFin Limited), were part of the task team that investigated the whole coaching structure in Stormers and Western Province rugby.

In fact, Wagner accompanied Mallett on a ‘fact-finding mission’ to Australasia earlier this year when the Stormers were on a particularly bad run and some within the WP Rugby and WPRU structures wanted to have coach Kobus van der Merwe sacked on the spot.

That task team has stopped its work, but two members – Wagner and Mallett – remain key figures in the ongoing coaching and administrative dramas. There is even a suggestion that Wagner might already have turned against Mallett in order to save his own job.

Either way, Erasmus is now the front-runner for the coaching job and Solomons – a long-time Mallett favourite – is apparently out of the running altogether.

What is also interesting is that Erasmus, the Springbok team’s technical adviser, has done an about-turn on his view that he does not want the head coach’s job.

Apparently Erasmus is keen to join the Stormers – but as the head coach only, which would obviously rule the already unpopular Solomons out of the equation.

By Jan de Koning 365 Digital

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