WATCH: Former captain Jean de Villiers reveals the elements behind the Stormers’ URC success

The Stormers are looking win back to back URC titles. Photo: Nic Bothma/BackpagePix

The Stormers are looking win back to back URC titles. Photo: Nic Bothma/BackpagePix

Published May 23, 2023


Cape Town - Stormers legend Jean de Villiers had identified the core reasons for the current team’s run of success compared to golden generations of the past that failed to deliver in the crunch moments.

The Stormers qualified for just one Super Rugby final back in 2010 - a defeat to the Bulls - while De Villiers was also part of consecutive teams that were knocked out in the 2011 and 2012 semi-finals.

It was not due to a lack of talent that the Stormers could not get over the line as the Cape Town-based team boasted an abundance of supremely talented individuals.

World Cup-winning Springboks Bryan Habana, Jaque Fourie, Duane Vermuelen, Schalk Burger, Francois Louw along with De Villiers formed the heart of the Stormers team back then.

In comparison, the current Stormers team have already delivered the United Rugby Championship last year, and are aiming to win back-to-back titles this weekend they face Irish giants Munster in another home final at DHL Stadium.

De Villiers believes Stormers’ current success is due to coach John Dobson and his support staff for having formed a definitive team culture, identity and gameplan, whereas his generation were always caught between two worlds.

“I think they’ve nailed down how they want to play and everyone has bought into that. Everyone strives to be as good as possible at doing that. Credit must go to John Dobson and his team for getting that right,” De Villiers said on a media call for the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.

“It is not something that just happens overnight. It took them a couple of seasons to get it right. They really understand they want to play, and they execute that really well. When the pressure comes on, they don’t go into their shells. They stick to what has worked for them.

“If you compare that to my time for the Stormers, I think it was a constant struggle as to what our identity is … how do we want to play … an expansive game … or do you want to revert back to a more conservative game.

“I don’t think we ever got that right. It was always in between. And in the pressure situations that’s what cost us in those big games. I really think that’s what they have.

“We might have been a combination of fantastic players together in a team, but playing as a team towards one goal, understanding the way you want to play, I don’t think we ever got that spot on,” De Villiers added.