‘It’s on its last legs ...’ Stormers hope Cape Town Stadium pitch isn’t a muddy mess for Connacht battle

Marvin Orie of Stormers runs onto the pitch during the United Rugby Championship 2022/23 quarterfinal between the Stormers and Bulls at Cape Town Stadium

Marvin Orie of Stormers runs onto the pitch during the United Rugby Championship 2022/23 quarter-final against the Bulls at Cape Town Stadium on 6 May 2023. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Published May 9, 2023


Cape Town - “It's on its last legs.”

That's how Stormers assistant coach Dawie Snyman laughingly described the playing surface of Cape Town Stadium ahead of his team's semi-final in the United Rugby Championship against Connacht.

And with rain expected later in the week in Cape Town, there will probably not be enough time to try and fix some patches to the outfield to prevent a mud bath ahead of Saturday’s (4pm kick-off) match.

After beating the Bulls in the quarter-finals, where they scored some pretty impressive tries with their running rugby despite the situation with the pitch, the Stormers will be looking to do the same against their Irish visitors.

And in Ireland, the state of the pitch has been a discussion ahead of the semi.

“There's not much we can do about it,” Snyman said, when asked about trying to fix the pitch ahead of Saturday.

“Unfortunately, there will be a bit of rain later this week, so I am not sure if that will help. But the last three or four games have sort of been similar. I don't think it will get worse.

“Probably the worst we've seen was last Saturday (against the Bulls) and similar this weekend.”

And while the Stormers are geared to play with the same vigour they dispatched the Bulls with, they are aware underestimating Connacht could lead to disappointment.

Their Irish visitors saw off the more fancied Ulster in a tough all-Irish quarter-final derby and will be bolstered by their performance.

According to Snyman, the Stormers won't feel any pressure because they are the home team and Connacht are the less-fancied side, but they do put pressure on their performance.

“We obviously analyse the opposition to understand what they can bring, but - and focusing on the process might sound like a cliche - we will take things step by step to understand which areas we need to be good at to get the result,” he said.

“The pressure will be more on our own performance, these players want to be in the big games and big moments, so it's exciting for us.

“Connacht are a tough team, we realised this last year already when we played them at the Sports Ground (in Galway).

“They are a quality side and wellcoached.

“They are a team we never take lightly. Even in that first game (this season), it was tough until Bundee Aki got that red card.

“They scored a try until they came back to that call. The game was still in the balance.

“It is one team we will not take lightly. They can beat any team on the day as proven against Ulster who are a tough team to beat away.”

The Stormers will give flank Deon Fourie the whole week to prove his fitness ahead of the semi-final.

He tweaked his hamstring against the Bulls and left the field shortly after the start of the second half. The rest of the Stormers players, apart from Seabelo Senatla who is recovering after a car accident, is fit and preparing for Connacht.

“We will give Deon the full week to make sure he is 100%. He felt his hamstring in the first half, he has gone for scans.

“At this stage, it looks quite positive. It's just all about how he can recover from that,” Snyman added.

“Hopefully, he will be all right.”


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