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Stormers coach John Dobson worried about the economic impact of the coronavirus

15 March 2020 - 15:37 By KHANYISO TSHWAKU
Stormers coach John Dobson. File photo.
Stormers coach John Dobson. File photo.
Image: Ziyaad Douglas/Gallo Images

The fact that the Stormers lost to the Sharks is the least of Stormers coach John Dobson’s concerns as the cross-continental Super Rugby tournament has now been shut down due to coronavirus (Covid-19).

Super Rugby governing body Sanzaar announced an indefinite suspension of the tournament on the back of the growing fears with regards to the virus as New Zealand applied strict regulations for travellers who are going to the country.

The SA Super Rugby teams who were travelling in Australia in the form of the Bulls and the Lions are returning home.

Dobson said the economic impact of the shutdown of the tournament hasn’t been measured, even though that particular hand will be forced because of the severity of the disease.

“It’s going to feel a bit funereal for everybody involved, especially for the Sharks, who were leading. The tragic consequence of the reaction to the virus is that we’re going to see more hardships and deaths than from the actual virus itself in the way that the economy and jobs will be affected. That’s my greatest concern,” Dobson said.

“It’s going to affect poor people in a horrible way and I hope political correctness hasn’t gone too far. I hope the reaction to the virus has been properly thought through as it’s going to have a cataclysmic effect on people’s lives. There are so many economic knock-on effects in so many areas.”

Back to the rugby, the Stormers were fortunate not to have loose-forward Johan du Toit sent off within the first minute of the game by referee AJ Jacobs.

Johan, the younger brother of injured Springbok loose-forward Pieter-Steph, clattered into Sharks scrumhalf Louis Schreuder in the air from kickoff.

He was yellow-carded for his sin, but Dobson said a red card would have been fair punishment for the crime.

“If it had been a red card, there wouldn’t have been any complaints. You sit there in the coach’s box and you wonder what the hell just happened. It wasn’t part of any plan to do anything like that.

“If he got red, I wouldn’t have complained but once Louis landed on his back, then the referee showed a bit of courage,” Dobson said.

“I can understand if people are disgruntled when a person comes off in a golf cart and I apologise for that.”

With scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies set to do some time away from the game with a serious leg injury, Dobson said they expected to struggle without their key Springbok players.

Their absence didn’t detract from the excellence of the Sharks.

“I think Herschel has potentially fractured his leg, so he’s going to be out for a while.

“We’ve got four of our Rugby World Cup winning Springboks with traumatic injuries. That’s a lot,” Dobson said.

“We deserved to lose and I’m not making an excuse for losing and chances are we would have lost even if they were playing, but Bongi Mbonambi, Siya Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit are injured and you play without them in an away game, of course it’s going to be tough.”