Reasonably satisfied, but they would have loved to have reached the semi-final.
That was the verdict from Vodacom Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus about the recent Vodacom Super 14 campaign. Erasmus coached the Cape side for the first time and they narrowly missed out on a semi-final berth when they couldn’t secure a bonus point for four tries in their last league game.
“We are reasonably satisfied, but there still is a lot of work to be done. We realize we didn’t make the semi-final. Even though it was an improvement on last season, we still would have loved to be there.
“The positive about this campaign is that all the time we said we are busy with a process and we showed progress and didn’t go backwards.”
The Stormers had a poor start to the competition and nobody would have given them a chance to be in contention for a semi-final spot in the final weeks after three consecutive defeats.
“Looking at the draw we always knew it was going to be tough. And I thought the tour would mean a lot to the team because we could become better acquainted. It was a new coach and new players and the tour came at just the right time.
“I thought it would go well on tour, but not so well.”
Erasmus didn’t want to single out any player, but was prepared to laud his captain, Jean de Villiers, for his efforts the past season.
“I am happy with every single player’s contribution. Some guys’ form fluctuated and others were consistent, but I don’t want to single out somebody specifically.
“Jean did very well in his first season as captain, particularly for a guy that played so much rugby. He played every single minute of every game and that is quite something – especially for somebody who is so injury-prone.
“He didn’t miss a minute this season. Except for his captaincy – and he really grew nicely into that role – he also played brilliantly. He had a lot of game time without injuries and I am very glad about that.”
Injuries decimated the Stormers at a critical time of the season and particularly their prop reserve strength was severely tested. Erasmus, however, refused to use that as an excuse for their failure to reach the semis.
He praised the Cape supporters for their unwavering support this season. “The people of the Cape’s support were really phenomenal and we can only thank them for that. It is a privilege to play and coach in front of them.”
The former Cheetahs coach said the support of all the sponsors was also critical to the team’s performances. “Except for the money they put in they stood by us – through the bad and the good times.
“And what was great was that in bad or good times nobody insisted on getting more from us as a team. Everybody was satisfied with our progress all the time and they backed us 100%. It is a privilege to work with people who are prepared to look deeper and that’s what you need as a rugby team.”
Erasmus said preparation for next year’s Super 14 is already underway. Now that the Vodacom WP coaching team is in place, he can give attention to contracting, structures and correcting the mistakes of the past season.
The coach believes WP can do well in the upcoming Currie Cup competition. “We have the players and we now have a bit of momentum.
“It will be tough with so many Springboks out, but Allister (Coetzee) and his management team has a nice foundation and I will be involved. We want to build on the support base we have in Cape Town and want to see if we can bring the Currie Cup home.”