What more has to be said to persuade anyone that Eddie Jones is one of the best rugby coaches in the game at the moment? He is widely accepted as the brains behind the Springboks’ victory in the 2007 Rugby World Cup when he assisted coach Jake White. He was the tactician behind Japan’s shock 34-32 win over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup in Brighton. He’s the mastermind responsible for the resurgence of England rugby as he guided them to their first Grand Slam victory in 13 years and their first ever three Test series win against Australia. It’s no wonder that Robbie Fleck feels Jones can teach him a thing or two. Fleck was thrust into the Stormers head coach position with little warning. He had backed up Allister Coetzee and retained his assistant’s position when Eddie Jones was signed, only to see Jones lured away to England in a flurry of apologies and compensation deals eight days after his official appointment. – David O’Sullivan
By Lloyd Burnard
Cape Town – It was a season that exposed a number of young Stormers players to the rigours of Super Rugby.
The likes of Jean-Luc du Plessis, Robert du Preez, Leolin Zas, Huw Jones, Brandon Thomson and JD Schickerling all got a taste of what this tournament is about and will surely be better for it in 2017.
The young make-up of the squad signified the start of a new era at Newlands and a philosophy that would seek to play a fearless brand of attacking rugby in an attempt to evolve.
The man tasked with facilitating that evolution was Robbie Fleck.
The Stormers were due to have Eddie Jones at the helm in 2016, but just two weeks after being unveiled in Cape Town, Jones accepted the England coaching job and was off.
It left the Stormers in somewhat of a pickle, and Fleck was asked to fill the position on an interim basis.
He came without experience, but with all of the commitment, dedication and work ethic expected of a top-level coach.
Saturday’s 61-20 quarter-final loss to the Chiefs at Newlands suggests that the Stormers still have a long way to go, but Fleck was adamant after the match that this group of players was on the right track and that they had the ability to catch up.
Whether or not Fleck will be in charge for a second season remains to be seen, but he certainly appears keen now that he has had a taste.
“I’ve still got to knuckle that down with the director of rugby and the CEO in terms of my position,” Fleck said after the match.
Historic clean sweep for England in Australia. Incredible what just one week with the Stormers did for Eddie Jones as a coach.
— Dan Nicholl (@dannicholl) June 25, 2016
“The way I would like to see it is that I’ll go on some work experience. I’d like to go and visit Eddie (Jones) overseas and several other coaches and try and close that gap.
“For me it’s all about trying to get as much information and learn as much as I can before the next campaign. It’s just about now getting our players over this one and looking forward to that challenge next season.”
Fleck felt that he had grown as a coach this season, especially over the last week.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It’s been a fantastic campaign on and off the field,” he said.
“You talk about lessons learnt and I think I’ve learnt more in this week than I ever have as a coach … analysing the Chiefs and going up against a quality side with a quality coaching staff.
“Obviously tonight is very disappointing and it’s going to be a tough one to swallow but for me as a coach it’s just been a great experience. I’ve had great leadership around me and the players have been fantastic in terms of their buy-in.
“I think we all realise that we are a fair bit off where we need to be and we certainly are looking forward to next year.” – Sport24