The Bulls vs Stormers rivalry: Five players who played for the enemy
CAPE TOWN - “It’s like we know that if we lose every other game, but we just beat the Bulls, then it will be all okay for our supporters.”
Those were the words of Springbok and Stormers superstar, Pieter-Steph du Toit, around this time last year as they were getting ready for a Super Rugby meeting with the Bulls.
That statement alone should do more than enough to prove that the greatest rugby rivalry in South Africa is still very much alive. It’s fierce, and it just adds so much more to the occasion every time these teams meet.
But over the years, a number of players have shifted their loyalties and went to play for the enemy. This week former Stormers star Gio Aplon broke Cape supporters' hearts when announced that he is joining Jake White's Bulls.
WYNONA LOUW looks at five big-name players who have run out for both teams over the last decade or so.
Probably one of the most recognisable domestic transfers, Habana made the move to the Stormers in 2009 after winning two Super Rugby titles with the Bulls. That last-minute try in the Super 14 final against the Sharks was one of the speed merchant’s most appreciated contributions at Loftus, and there were many. So, it’s not hard to understand why his departure to the Cape added even more spice to the age-old rivalry.
Mbonambi joined the Stormers in 2014 following a lack of game time in Pretoria. At the time, Gert Smal, Western Province's then director of rugby, said: "We've tracked his progress and believe that he can reach his full potential here." Mbonambi has since evolved into one of the best hookers in world rugby and played a key role in the Springboks' march to the World Cup title.
Thor amassed a respectable 89 appearances for the Stormers, spanning over six years. He then played for Toulon and the Kubota Spears, before returning to South Africa last year to join the Bulls. The tough forward is no doubt one of the biggest names to switch between the Stormers and the Bulls.
Talk about a bombshell.
Many Aplon-lovers would have had to refill their coffees after hearing the news that the former Stormers excitement machine had joined the Bulls earlier this week. After making 84 appearances for the Stormers and having spent years playing club rugby in France and Japan, you can’t blame a few fans for uttering ‘say it isn’t so’ when they learnt that the 37-year-old had switched loyalties.
Gerhard van den Heever
After inheriting Habana’s No 11 jersey, the speed-filled winger didn’t spend too much time with the Bulls’ Super Rugby side before heading south as well, where he ran out in 26 games for the Stormers between 2012 and 2013. One of the things that endeared him to the Loftus faithful was his little scuffle with the Stormers' Luke Watson in a tense Super Rugby derby in 2009.