Save the tears for the pillow, John Dobson tells his Stormers players after URC final loss

Herschel Jantjies and Steven Kitshoff were emotional after the Stormers URC final loss.

Herschel Jantjies is consoled by Stormers captain Steven Kitshoff after Stormers lost to Munster in the URC final. Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

Published May 28, 2023


Cape Town - They won't hang players out to dry, but a couple of errors in the final minutes of the game cost the Stormers a shot at going back-to-back in the United Rugby Championship (URC) final on Saturday in Cape Town.

Instead, the traveling Munster pulled off a try in the last five minutes and defended as if their lives depended on it, to keep the defending champions out to seal a memorable 19-14 win to be crowned new champions.

The Irish club, playing their third playoff game away from home, dominated the Stormers in the first half and thanks to that late try, were crowned champions for the first time since 2011.

"Try and be disciplined enough to keep the tears for the pillow, because there will be tears later," was coach John Dobson's message to his side after falling short of a second title in front of their home crowd.

"It feels a little weird sitting here, because we have ticked off our goals, yet we are all feeling miserable. I saw it as a game of two halves, Munster was superb in the first half. They put us under enormous pressure on defence.

"We can say it was our worst defensive half because of how well Munster played in it. We lost five out of the six contestables (kicks). In the second half, when we started putting them under pressure, I thought we were nanoseconds away from winning the game. We just needed that extra score."

Dobson admitted that they probably should've changed their game model, especially on a wet and muddy pitch. His defenders, especially in the first half, had plenty of defensive slips when they rushed Munster's attack when they defended.

But he said Munster thoroughly deserved to win the game.

"They were up 12-7 and had two tries disallowed, so the first-half damage could have been bigger. It was maybe naive of us not to change our game model on that pitch.

"When you miss the read on defence, you can't recover. Your transition, counter-attacking game is gone, and your scrum game is gone. That's the three pillars of our game.

"But that will be different next season and I suppose you don't change your game model for one game. The fight that Munster had when we threw the kitchen sink at them in the second half, was remarkable.

"I genuinely think they deserved to win the game."