News24.com | For John Dobson, flame of North-South derby still burns: ‘It’s great to have these rivalries’
The Stormers and Bulls in action. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
- Stormers head coach John Dobson is not kidding himself about the scale of Saturday’s mouthwatering URC final in Cape Town.
- It will be a North-South derby between arguably two of South Africa’s top teams this season.
- Dobson said the Stormers were ready to turn up for the occasion.
With the 2021/22 United Rugby Championship (URC) reaching its crescendo this weekend, Stormers head coach John Dobson said a North-South final is « good for South African rugby ».
The last time the two teams contested a cross-hemisphere showpiece final was a Super 14 showdown in 2010 where the Bulls won 25-17.
There is no shortage of history between the two teams and Dobson was more than happy to ramp up the enormity of the occasion.
Already this season, Dobson’s charges have beaten the Bulls and have a final opportunity to seal it with the URC trophy come late evening on Saturday.
« I should talk it down… but it’s good for South African rugby, » Dobson told reporters on Wednesday.
He said loose-forward Deon Fourie, who will play in his 100th game for the Stormers on Saturday, talked to players about the rivalry and the passion of the occasion.
Fourie played in that 2010 final at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.
Dobson gave away that he’s devoted some time this week to regaling players of the history of this derby, while his forwards coach Rito Hlungwani, he revealed, gave a fervid speech to players.
« It’s great for rugby that we have these rivalries. We must not wash them down as another game and that comes from the players as well.
« Stormers-Bulls, it’s part of our fibre. »
Both finalists, it’s been widely reported, would never have been given a chance to reach this juncture during the early stages of the competition.
They earned their spot by beating two staunch Irish teams.
The Bulls travelled to Leinster last week to hand the tournament favourites a shock defeat (27-26); while the Stormers stayed in the game until the very end to snatch victory against Ulster in Cape Town (17-15).
Dobson then turned bullish ahead of Saturday’s engagement: « What I do absolutely guarantee is that this is not a Stormers team that is going to choke or fade away ».
« We might make mistakes and the Bulls might get us, but we are going to put absolutely everything out there.
« This team has never not turned up. We will be there in intensity, » he added.
Dobson has overseen the season the evolution of some key players, including but not limited to Evan Roos, Manie Libbok, Damian Willemse, Warrick Gelant and Leolin Zas.
« We started with a vision to ‘get Cape Town smiling’ and that is about how we engage with people, the style of rugby we play. »
« Our mission statement was to get Cape Town smiling and whatever happens on Saturday we’ve done that. »
Dobson will name his team on Friday.
Kickoff is at 19:30.