Eighty more minutes. That’s what stands between the Stormers and the Bulls and United Rugby Championship glory.
URC chief executive Martin Anayi this week spoke of the first season of the competition, where four South African teams joined in to play against some of the best teams in Europe, as a “dream come true”, with all the organisers’ hopes and aspirations met.
For the Stormers and Bulls, and their respective coaches and players, the dream will be to end the season with a pot of gold at the end of it.
Perhaps the URC bosses aren’t all that happy because it’s not a north-south final, but for South African rugby fans and the bosses at HQ, it is the absolute perfect finale to a first season playing in a new world.
South Africa’s top teams over the course of the season have deservedly won through to the final and what an occasion awaits.
Dobson and White
For the Stormers’ John Dobson and the Bulls’ Jake White a winners trophy would be the cherry on top of what have been two remarkable and excellent coaching careers. Sure White won a World Cup, but considering what he has done with the Bulls in the last few years, a win here might even top that triumph in France in 2007.
And Dobson, who has been involved in Cape rugby structures for years and worked his backside off to get to this point, would love nothing more than to give the fans something to cheer about after years of disappointment for the franchise, especially in Super Rugby.
There are also personal battles to be played out, with several Springbok players sure to want to make an impression, with the first Test of the year just two weeks away.
Warrick Gelant, Damian Willemse, Evan Roos and Deon Fourie for the Stormers will want to end their URC campaign with a bang, while Kurt-Lee Arendse, Ruan Nortje, Elrigh Louw and Marcell Coetzee will be looked at to provide the spark to fire up the Bulls in what should be a hostile Cape Town Stadium crowd.
The Stormers will be the favourites; they’re at home and they also know they got the better of the Bulls in the two previous games they faced off this season.
In April the Stormers won 19-17 in Cape Town and in the January match in Pretoria, it was also the Capetonians who triumphed, winning 30-26.
There’s not much separating the teams so both will be full of confidence. The Bulls may feel destiny is on their side after beating the big favourites, Leinster, in the semis in Dublin last week, but the Stormers will believe it is their turn for glory after pulling off a late win against Ulster last weekend.
It’s all set up to be a thriller of a game, with no clear favourites. Glory awaits Dobson and his Stormers, who’ve surprised friend and foe this season, or White and his Bulls, who’ve become South Africa’s championship winning franchise in recent years.
Kick-off is 7.30pm.