The Stormers coach John Dobson had no issue with referee Andrew Brace. Photo: AFP

The Stormers coach John Dobson had no issue with referee Andrew Brace. Photo: AFP

Stormers coach: I thought ref was ‘really good’

Stormers coach John Dobson has praised the performance of referee Andrew Brace in Saturday’s URC final despite criticism from Jake White.

The Stormers coach John Dobson had no issue with referee Andrew Brace. Photo: AFP

The Stormers coach John Dobson had no issue with referee Andrew Brace. Photo: AFP

Bulls coach Jake White not-so-subtly suggested the officiating in Saturday’s United Rugby Championship (URC) final played a significant part in leading to the defeat against the Stormers.


Irish referee Andrew Brace was the man in charge of the inaugural URC final at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday as the Bulls let a 7-3 half-time lead slip in an 18-13 defeat to their Mother City opponents.

However, Dobson said after the match that he thought Brace was calling things fairly, even when the Stormers fell behind on the scoreboard early on.

“When we were down, I thought to myself that compared to what we have had in the weeks past, I thought he was having an excellent game,” said Dobson.

“I thought he was really good. It’s hard to comment because we won and I know it’s tough, but in the coaches box I told myself that whatever happened today, he wasn’t having an influence on the game and that’s what you want from a referee.”

At the post-match press conference, a visibly emotional White refused to directly criticise the referee, but was clearly frustrated by the handling of the breakdown and offsides line in particular.


“It is what it is. I didn’t think we were ever going to win that game,” said Jake White.

“I thought the ref was outstanding, he saw what he saw. I couldn’t control the other things. There are other controllables which we couldn’t control. You guys can work it out yourselves. I’m not going to get into it. The ref only saw what he saw. At the end of the day, it’s all you want a ref to do, is see what he sees.

“There were things tonight which we couldn’t control. We were never going to control them. I’ve told the players that. We are going to have to just put our heads down and when those things change, we will be OK.

“I thought the referee was outstanding, don’t misquote me. The referee was outstanding. What he saw, he blew and I am happy with that. I can never argue with the referee.

“You don’t want to sound like whinger and I have to teach my players to be humble when we lose. There were a couple of times they went for the ball, they missed it, they came back and got it again and got rewarded. Now that’s fine and if the referee sees that, that’s great.

“At half time they got into our half, got a penalty for offsides. We got into their half about six times and never got a penalty for offsides. We can’t control those things, I mean, it’s not up to the referee, is it?”

The Stormers have celebrated becoming the inaugural URC champs

The result marked an 11th win in a row for the Stormers, who never lifted the title during their time in Super Rugby – beaten by the Bulls in their only final in 2010.

“It’s an incredible story of where we came from,” Dobson said after the match. “I was on a train outside Venice in that first game [against Benetton]. We didn’t know what we were going for. Somebody phoned me and there was talk of us being pulled out of the URC and being replaced by the Cheetahs. In fact, a journalist asked me that question on the train. So it is an amazing story…

“If I could put it down to something, it’s an unwavering work ethic and joy amongst our players. It’s just a really good group and we got them to believe in what we were trying to do.

“If you are sitting as one of the potential investors and see the product that was out there today in terms of crowd, passion, the result on the field, we are obviously going to be a sought-after investment. There is no question that people are going to buy into Western Province Rugby and Stormers rugby now.”