Stormers coach John Dobson (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
- Stormers coach John Dobson says the vibe in Cape Town this week has been incredible ahead of Saturday’s URC final against Munster.
- A crowd of over 55 000 are expected with the Stormers eyeing back-to-back URC titles.
- Dobson says there is a real fear in the camp of letting the people of Cape Town down.
The Stormers, on the verge of back-to-back United Rugby Championship (URC) titles, are “desperate” not to let the people of Cape Town down in Saturday’s final against Munster at DHL Stadium.
That was the strong message from head coach John Dobson on Friday.
The match – the second URC final in as many seasons in Cape Town – will be played in front of a capacity crowd of 55 000. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, last year’s capacity was capped at just over 30 000.
A large travelling group of Munster supporters – understood to be in the region of 2 500 – are also in the city.
It promises to be one of the most famous days in the history of South African franchise rugby, and while Dobson stressed that the Stormers could be proud of their efforts this season regardless of which way the final goes, he acknowledged having that mentality was easier said than done.
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“I feel like we had a good, normal week, and I haven’t felt like there have been too many distractions. Our plans for the game are good,” said Dobson at his stadium press conference on Friday, with the URC trophy to his right.
“The tough one is that we have this mission, which I have talked enough about in the last while, and this vision with what we want to do with rugby in Cape Town.
“To a large degree, we have already achieved that. I’m trying to understand that logic: whatever happens tomorrow, we have done our job and achieved what we set out to at the start of the season.
“When we wrote our goal list, it wasn’t to retain the URC trophy.
“But that’s a lot easier said in practice. The truth is we are desperate to win tomorrow. It would feel like a hollow achievement of goals if we didn’t, so that cold logic has given way to quite high levels of emotion, anxiety and enthusiasm.”
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Dobson and the Stormers had planned and expected to play the final against Leinster in Dublin, but Munster’s shock win in that all-Irish semi-final two weekends ago saw the Stormers gifted another knockout clash as the hype around this side appears to reach new heights with every victory.
“We were actually genuinely keen to go and play Leinster because of what it would have done for the growth of the group,” said Dobson.
“But the vibe in the city is just incredible. We’re getting so much love with kids all wearing blue at school and with Stormers kits in supermarkets throughout the week.
“We just don’t want to let these people down.
“I took some umbrage with certain people saying we had sold cheaper tickets so we could fill the stadium. We could have sold tickets for R1 000 and sold the stadium out a few times over.
“There is a massive fear of letting the people of Cape Town down, because the whole city has embraced rugby in a way I’ve never seen.”
Kick-off on Saturday is at 18:30.
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Angelo Davids, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Hacjivah Dayimani, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain)
Replacements: 16 JJ Kotze, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Ben-Jason Dixon, 20 Willie Engelbrecht, 21 Marcel Theunissen, 22 Paul de Wet, 23 Clayton Blommetjies
15 Mike Haley, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Antoine Frisch, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Shane Daly, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 John Hodnett, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Diarmuid Barron, 1 Jeremy Loughman
Substitutes: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Josh Wycherley, 18 Roman Salanoa, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Alex Kendellen, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Ben Healy, 23 Keith Earls
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