'Our biggest match in history' - Stormers brace for niggly URC final against Munster

John Dobson feels the Stormers have the biggest game on their hands when they take on Munster in the URC final. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

John Dobson feels the Stormers have the biggest game on their hands when they take on Munster in the URC final. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Published May 27, 2023


Cape Town - The "biggest" match in the Stormers' history.

That is how coach John Dobson and captain Steven Kitshoff described their United Rugby Championship (URC) final against Munster on Saturday in Cape Town.

Although they were involved in and won the North-South derby URC final last season against arch-rivals the Bulls, and they played in the Super Rugby final in 2010 in Soweto against the Pretoria side, Dobson believes this final in the DHL Stadium (kickoff 6:30 PM) will be their biggest yet.

In a matter of hours, after tickets went on sale, the stadium was sold out, with 55 000 supporters expected on Saturday.

"I think what it's done for rugby in this region, my feeling is yes," Dobson answered a question on if it's their biggest game.

He remembered the Orlando Stadium final in Super Rugby days and other Stormers teams like the "Men in Black" from the '90s, who all came up short of playing in finals.

Of course, there was last year's final too, but it was a local derby.

"It's great that it (the final) is against a team with a proud tradition like Munster. They're such a good team, with a great culture. To have 5000 people flying over, it's wonderful.

"So this is proper. I don't think any Super Rugby final would have had that. Whether the Lions played against the Crusaders. I don't think anything like this has happened in Super Rugby."

Kitshoff nodded in agreement with his coach on it being the "biggest" Stormers match, with the captain having joined the team in 2011 and playing in a few playoffs in Super Rugby.

"It's possibly the biggest game the Stormers have ever played," the prop said.

He will be playing in his final match for the Cape side and will play for Ulster in next season's URC. He will join the Irish club after the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Dobson cautioned that his team will have to be disciplined and not get into a bit of argy-bargy with their opponents.

In their last meeting, the match had quite a bit of niggle as players shoved each other around and Stormers' hands were put in the face of a Munster player.

"We chatted in the week about not doing it (getting involved in scuffles). We can't give penalties away against Munster. I'd imagine, and I don't want to say cheap shots, they will try and get under our skins a little bit.

"The truth is, we have guys with trip switches. We've seen it in the last few weeks. It's a helluva important aspect of the game for us.

"It's something we've talked about a lot. We expect the natural niggle.

Dobson referred to one incident against Connacht in the semis where eighth man Evan Roos, known for his short fuse on the pitch, was thrown to the ground by an opponent.

His teammate Ben-Jason Dixon then charged into his defense and sparked handbags.

"That will just be rugby suicide (if we do that)," Dobson added.

"I don't want to stand here and say Munster will try and play off the ball stuff, but it's going to be an area of focus for us to keep our cool."