The Stormers were on cloud nine after a fantastic fightback in the United Rugby Championship final saw them claim a historic first international title as the defeated the Bulls 18-13 at the Cape Town City Stadium.
It was a brilliant effort from the home side after struggling in the first half and trailing at the break, only to turn the game on it’s in the second half to become the inaugural winners of the URC, with a proud captain Steven Kitshoff admitting it was yet to sink in.
“It’s so surreal. What a performance. The Bulls got off to a great start, but I am extremely proud of the fight from the boys. I couldn’t have asked for more as a captain. The guys just absolutely pitched 100% and gave it their all,” said Kitshoff.
“The Bulls were all over us in the first 30 (minutes), and the message was just stick to the game plan and do what we do best. The guys really kept on fighting and we stuck to our guns. I am just so happy it worked out in the end.”
It was almost poetic in that 35-year-old Stormers returnee Deon Fourie capped off an amazing week that started with him being selected for the Springbok squad for the first time and ended with a man-of-the-match performance in his hundredth Stormers appearance helping his side win the title.
“I had to do it for the team, I had to do it for my hundredth (match) and I had to do it for these amazing people. Our motto from the beginning was to keep Cape Town smiling and we definitely did that tonight,” explained Fourie.
“There are a lot of emotions. It was a tough game from the start, the guys dug deep. After the first half the belief was still there in the change room. No one panicked, we knew we had it in us and we just had to execute our plan which we did in the second half.”
An extremely emotional Stormers coach John Dobson admitted that he couldn’t bear to watch the final few minutes, before celebrating his teams amazing triumph.
“I didn’t watch the last two minutes. I just feel relief that we’ve done this. Obviously I’m thrilled, but I’m incredibly proud of this bunch of chaps. Where they have come from, what they’ve been through, it’s amazing,” admitted Dobson.
“This means the world to us, to have our name back where it should be, it means the world to me.”
Disappointed Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee was very magnanimous in defeat, as he praised his team’s effort, while congratulating the Stormers on a job well done.
“It’s never pleasant to lose in a final, but I can’t fault the boys effort. They gave it their all until the very last minute. Unfortunately it wasn’t our day but congratulations to the Stormers. They had a very good season and are deserved champions,” said Coetzee.
“Despite the final score, I am still proud of my boys. They achieved the impossible at times. A lot of people had written us off not to even be in the final and we can build on that. One thing that you can’t buy is character, which is formed.”