Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

‘You live for these moments’ – Deon Fourie fired up for sold out Stormers v Bulls

Dobson was also very happy with the current state of South African rugby, saying that it was currently in a very strong state.

Stormers captain Deon Fourie and coach John Dobson are both fired up for their sold out United Rugby Championship (URC) North-South derby against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday evening (kick-off 5:05pm).

The Bulls on Friday afternoon announced that it would be a full house at the stadium after every ticket was sold, which will see a crowd of over 51000 people roaring on the two fierce rivals.

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It is set to be a record attendance for a pool match in the URC and the second highest attendance ever at a URC match, behind the over 56000 fans that turned out for last year’s final between the Stormers and Munster at the Cape Town Stadium.

Memorable occasion

Fourie admitted that it was set to be a memorable occasion and that his team would need to get off to a fast start in the opening 20 minutes if they were to settle best and put the in-form hosts under pressure.

“From my side, with everything picking up again, derby games being sold out, it’s something we haven’t seen for so many years. It’s good for South African rugby, for South Africa and for the guys playing as well,” said Fourie.

“You live for these moments. I told the guys today at captain’s practice, these are the games that you will remember. One day, when you are retired, you will remember playing the Bulls at a sold-out Loftus. That’s the reason we play.

“In derbies, the first 20 minutes are tough, It’s helter-skelter, there are a lot of emotions, you feel the crowd, and the stress is building a bit. You just need that first contact to get into the game.

“The team that can handle those first 20 minutes the best and get into their rhythm will have a good game. In all these games, the first 20 minutes are vital and how you respond to what’s happening on the field.”

Sold out crowd

Stormers coach John Dobson was also excited to see the sold out crowd, as he reminisced on the times when a full house of spectators was the norm many years ago, while he encouraged his side to embrace the experience.

“We remember the years when these were the only games in town and the stadium filled up. Often you don’t think that when traditions die, they come back,” explained Dobson.

“We must just embrace the occasion, look around and see how many striped jerseys there are in the crowd, there will be many, many thousands of them. Think about them.

“Make sure you start properly. You can’t go through that altitude deficit and take your foot off the gas in the first 20 minutes. That’s going to require a bit of sacrifice.

“I think the guys are not daunted for one second, we are actually looking forward to the occasion. We are thrilled to be part of it.”

Strong state SA rugby

Dobson was also very happy with the current state of South African rugby, saying that the immense support shown to the local franchises proves that the competitiveness and direction that all the local teams are heading in bodes well for the future of rugby in the country.

“This is really important for South African rugby. The Sharks when we went there a couple of weeks ago and the Bulls this week have done extraordinary jobs. It is great for South African rugby,” said Dobson.

“It’s really good that the Bulls are a really good team. They are six points above us on the log. The Sharks are investing a fortune and promising a turnaround, which I have no doubt will come.

“The Lions had that great run (earlier in the season). So it is really healthy for South African rugby. It is a great thing. The fuller it (stadium) is the better. The more hostile, the more there is at stake for both teams the better. It’s brilliant for South African rugby.”

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