Western Province bosses make a U-turn and back coach Robbie Fleck
After delivering an ultimatum to Stormers coach Robbie Fleck that his side needed to beat the Bulls and the Jaguares to retain his job‚ the Western Province hierarchy have made a U-turn.
Shortly before kick-off against the Bulls late last month‚ chief executive Paul Zacks gave Fleck the ultimatum‚ made by the WP board‚ that losing to the Bulls or the Jaguares would spell the premature end of his tenure. The Stormers subsequently lost to the Jaguares.
Fleck is under pressure with the Stormers bottom of the SA Super Rugby conference after six defeats in 11 matches this season.
His contract comes to an end at the conclusion of the current season and John Dobson has already been named as his successor in 2020.
The Stormers have only lost one home game this season and have four home matches in their final five fixtures to come. They still have a decent chance of topping a conference where only five points covers first to last.
Last Tuesday night Fleck was grilled by the board following the defeat against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires and there has since been an about turn.
The WP leadership issued a statement late on Saturday‚ giving Fleck their full backing‚ which was disingenuous considering their stance only days before.
The primary reason for the change of heart of was that Dobson hadn’t even been consulted about doing an ambulance job until the end of the season.
There was also support for Fleck from his assistants‚ who gave him their full backing in last Tuesday’s meeting while Fleck also did a strong presentation.
"Rugby is a game of inches and there have been some frustrating results this season from the Stormers where the rub of the green has not gone our way‚” Zacks said.
“But we all need to give them our full support as we get closer to the play-offs.
"We have seen some inspirational stories in the UEFA Champions League in recent weeks‚ with both Liverpool and Tottenham producing epic comebacks which show what is achievable if all stakeholders are aligned.
“There is no reason‚ with all the quality we have in our playing and coaching group‚ that the Stormers cannot emulate those performances this season‚" he said.
Chairman of the WP Rugby Board of Directors Dr Johan van de Merwe said that the supporters are key to the success of the Stormers this season.
"We know that we have fantastic players‚ great coaches and the best supporters in the world. The Board of Directors has shown faith in the coaching staff and with the support of the Newlands Faithful we can all drive this team to achieve great things this season‚" he said.