Hopes that the EP Kings would acquire the coaching services of highly rated John Dobson were blown out of the water when Western Province named the shrewd tactician as their new Currie Cup coach.
It has been announced in Cape Town that Dobson will take over from Allister Coetzee as WP Currie Cup coach later this year following news that Coetzee will leave the union to coach Kobelco Steelers in Japan.
There had been speculation that there would have been major changes in the EP Kings’ coaching structures if they succeeded in their reported quest to sign Dobson.
Though the Kings have never confirmed that they made a swoop for Dobson, reports from Cape Town said that Eastern Province wanted the innovative coach.
When news that Dobson was on the Kings’ shopping list first emerged, EP chief executive Charl Crous said there were vacancies within the coaching structures and that the Kings were in the process of identifying candidates to fill these positions.
“We are not prepared to discuss who those candidates are at this point in time,” Crous said.
News that Dobson was on the EP Kings’ wish list came shortly after defence coach Michael Horak left to join the Sharks and forwards coach Shaun Sowerby left Port Elizabeth to join Montpellier in France.
That meant that head coach Carlos Spencer was the sole survivor of the Kings’ dismal return to Currie Cup Premier Division rugby, when they lost nine of the 10 ten matches they played.
At this stage it is not known whether the Kings, if they had succeeded in their quest for Dobson, would have appointed Dobson him as head coach or placed him in the vacant position of director of rugby.
Defence guru Omar Mouneimne, formerly of the Southern Kings and Edinburgh, has replaced Horak.
Western Province director of rugby Gert Smal said the union had unsuccessfully tried to persuade Coetzee to sign a new deal.
“We tried our best to keep Allister. Not only is he a fantastic coach, but we have a great relationship – on and off the field,” Smal said. I am very sad to be losing him, but I can understand that he is seeking a new challenge.”
Dobson (head coach) and Dawie Snyman (assistant coach – backline) have been promoted to Currie Cup level after five successful seasons in charge of both the WP Under-21 and Vodacom Cup sides.
Smal said: “[Both]John Dobson and Dawie Snyman have both impressed me with their vision, and, of course, their records speak for themselves – having won three trophies in five seasons and produced countless players who have moved into our Super Rugby and Currie Cup teams [and beyond],” Smal said.
“It was always my intention to give John and Dawie an opportunity at a higher level this season and I am positive that they will reward my faith in them.” and continue their progression as talented coaches.”
The EP Kings start their Vodacom Cup rugby campaign with a grudge match against the Kenyan Simba XV at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on March 21.
Last year the Kings slumped to a 17-10 defeat against the Kenyans and were unable to reach the knockout stage of the competition.
Apart from the Simba XV clash, the The Kings also have home Vodacom Cup matches against Western Province (April 11), the South Western Districts Eagles (April 25) and Sharks (May 9).
The EP Kings have said they will use the Vodacom Cup to start preparing for the Currie Cup by picking their best players.