John Dobson: The published author who could write historic Stormers chapter
John Dobson could be about to write his greatest chapter by leading the Stormers to victory in the United Rugby Championship (URC) final.
The Stormers head coach happens to be a published author, having released a pair of comic novels – Year of the Gherkin and Year of the Turnip – about the trials and tribulations of central character Jason Brydon.
Dobson also holds a law degree, masters degrees in business administration and creative writing and was a founder of the 365 Media Group and the Rugby365 website.
According to the official URC website, those achievements highlight the variety that has filled Dobson’s adult life, although it has always been rooted in rugby.
The son of former referee and rugby writer Paul Dobson, who was the recipient of the World Rugby Referee Award in 2012, sport was in the family for Dobson growing up.
While his playing career may not have scaled the Test heights many young players aspire to, Dobson was on the books as a hooker at Western Province and spent time playing in Italy and Portugal.
He found his calling as a coach in 2008, serving as head coach of the UCT Ikey Tigers in the Varsity Cup and technical director of Italian side Roma in 2009.
A return to Cape Town followed in 2010 when he was appointed coach of the Western Province Under-21 side, helping them to victory in the Under-21 Provincial Championship in his first season at the helm and again in 2013.
He was also handed the reins of the Vodacom Cup team, winning that competition for the first and only time in the union’s history in 2012 with a side that included the likes of Bryan Habana, Damian de Allende, Duane Vermeulen, Eben Etzebeth and Steven Kitshoff.
John Dobson led Western Province to the Vodacom Cup playoffs for five consecutive years and, despite admitting to having had offers to coach abroad, his loyalty paid off when he was placed in charge of the union’s Currie Cup side in 2015, taking over from future Springboks coach Allister Coetzee, who had departed for a job in Japan.
His first season at the helm saw Western Province reach a fourth consecutive Premier Division final before victory over the Sharks in Durban helped them take the title in 2017.
They finished runners-up again in 2018 and Dobson’s ascent through the Western Province ranks was complete in 2020 when he was identified as Robbie Fleck’s successor as Stormers head coach.
John Dobson oversaw the Stormers’ move from Newlands
He oversaw the team’s move from Newlands to the Cape Town Stadium and now stands on the brink of delivering a long-awaited piece of major silverware for a franchise who never claimed Super Rugby’s top prize.
The Stormers won 12 of their 18 regular-season matches in the URC, collecting the South African Shield along the way, and now only a home clash with the Bulls stands between them and becoming the inaugural URC champions.
Kick-off is scheduled for 19:30 on Saturday, 18 June at the Cape Town Stadium.
Forget Year of the Gherkin and Year of the Turnip – this could be the year of the Stormers.
PICTURES | DUANE VERMEULEN GOES UNDER THE KNIFE