The Storms have achieved remarkable results in the United Rugby Championship, despite the financial chaos going on behind the scenes. Whilst they seem to have it all together on the pitch, the brains trust continues to baffle the rugby loving public with their bizarre decision making abilities, or lack thereof.
It was just over a month ago that the Varsity Cup final took place between Maties and Tuks at Danie Craven Stadium. Maties were overwhelming favorites in the fixture, having toppled Tuks in round one and putting UCT Ikeys to the sword only a week earlier. Their team brimming with talent unfortunately couldn't claim the title at the end of the day, but that doesn't mean there was anything wrong with their personnel. Two stand out performers for me were stand-in fly half Nevaldo Fleurs and fullback Siba Xamlashe. Fleurs in particular excelled in the semi-final with Xamlashe coming to the fore in the final.
Ronnie and I had been discussing both players performances on the Podcast, so Imagine the surprise then, when two weeks later it was confirmed that Fleurs had signed with the Cell C Sharks and Xamlashe was off to Bloemfontein to link up with the Toyota Cheetahs. Two incredible talents, from the Cape were now off to other franchises, with Fleurs even being jettisoned into the Sharks starting line up for their clash with the Pumas at home.
Now, it must be said that there is nothing strange about players moving provinces and seeking out opportunities at higher levels of the game. A closer look however will leave you scratching your heads in the same manner as I am whilst writing this, and for good reason. It is well established that the Stormers are set to lose in form full back Warrick Gelant at the end season, leaving a glaring gap at the back and one they desperately needed to fill. So what did they do next?
Instead of looking to their own playing base and to build talent, the Stormers went after the signature of current Cheetahs fullback Clayton Blommetjies. Blommetjies has signed a two year deal with the side to link up with them ahead of the new URC season as he sang Gelant's praises
“Boogie loves sometimes to kick a ball, where I would love to run a ball. We are totally different, and Boogie was playing fantastic rugby this year. I think if you are a fullback, you want to play at the back of a backline which is like that of the Stormers. They have Springboks there.”
Now it hardly makes sense why one would recruit a more expensive player, at the back end of his career (he is 32 this year) instead of building on two exceptional talents you already have within your structures. Make no mistake, Blommetjies has a lot to offer the Stormers. The question which should rather be asked is, does he have more to offer than the up and coming youngsters?
Adding to the lunacy of passing up a deal with MVM Holdings, which has seen the Sharks supercharge themselves in terms of playing personnel, the recruitment strategy of the Stormers seems a little off target and will likely hurt them in the long run. All this being said, the Stormers have proven themselves where it counts... on the field and here is hoping the backroom failings continue to remain in the back room only as they look to face bigger and bolder obstacles in the next season of URC and Champions Cup.