One hour before blast off: When sport is king

By Lucky Maree

From Johnny Clegg to Sisyphus, John Dobson uses every method that he can to make the Stormers great.

If you ever doubted that John Dobson is one of the great South African coaches, watch the magnificent documentary seen on DStv just a brief hour before the United Rugby Champion final.

Dobson reveals that when they win, they sing the Savuka song, The Crossing (Osiyeza) written by Johnny Clegg.

In part, the song says, “A punch-drunk man in a downtown bar takes a beating without making a sound. Through swollen eyes, he sways and he smiles, ’cause no one can put him down.”

But they sing the song in Zulu – and the rookies are put in the middle to see if they know the words.

He equated the Stormer’s challenge to Sisyphus, the Greek god who was condemned to roll that rock up the hill forever. “We can never stop rolling that rock up the hill, no matter how tired we are,” he says.


Their mantra, says Dobson, is “Making Cape Town smile”, and they have done that.

With tears in his eyes, he talks about where Western Province rugby was is 1992 to where they were in 2020.

“It was a shame,” he says.

“It was a great joy in my life to see the team come together.”

And the effect is seen in the words of the players.

Manie Libbok talks about pressure kicks and says he focuses on what he’s learnt and the way he’s trained. “I never doubt myself anymore.” 

Ruhan Nel said after the semi-final two weeks ago. “I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude to be wearing this jersey.”

That is the victory of John Dobson – and that is when the sport is king. 

And now, just an hour before the URC final between the Stormers and Munster, there is only one unanswered question. 

Can John Dobson and the Stormers make Cape Town – and all of South Africa – smile?

Pictured above: John Dobson

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