Stormers run for the URC play-offs kicks off this weekend with home-ground advantage

Stormers run for the URC play-offs kicks off this weekend with home-ground advantage
Ben Loader of Stormers on his way to score a try despite the efforts of tackler Marco van Staden against the Bulls at Loftus earlier this month. The Stormers have a chance to move into play-off position if they beat Edinburgh this weekend. (Photo: Anton Geyser/Gallo Images)

The Stormers have a chance to start a run for a high URC finish, while the Sharks are aiming to gain respect after a disappointing campaign. The Stormers are also riding high after positive news about completion of a R150m equity purchase of its professional arm.

The Stormers might be sitting ninth on the overall United Rugby Championship (URC) standings, but that picture could be vastly different in a few weeks. 

The 2022 URC champions are only two points out of play-off position, and with four home games in the next four rounds to come, they have the opportunity to be sitting pretty in a matter of weeks. 

On Saturday, the Stormers host Edinburgh at DHL Stadium. The team has enjoyed a strong season but is without several key international players who are being rested after the Six Nations. 

The Stormers follow that against Ulster in round 13, the Ospreys in round 14, and Leinster in round 15. Coach John Dobson will be targeting at least 16 points from those four matches — but a few try-scoring bonus points would be handy too. 

Sean Everitt, Head Coach of Edinburgh Rugby, knows it will be tough to topple the Stormers in Cape Town. (Photo: Ryan Hiscott/Getty Images)

Stormers optimism

There is reason to be optimistic as the Stormers have an impressive home record, with only three defeats in three seasons in Green Point. While there is comfort in that history, it also adds to the expectation and pressure for log points in this crucial period. 

“Coming to Cape Town is always a difficult task, as Stormers have done exceptionally well here over the last two campaigns,” Edinburgh coach Sean Everitt said.

“They rarely lose at the DHL Stadium. They’re a very good team that’s also grown depth over their squad. 

“Bringing our team here, like any northern hemisphere team, is always a challenge. But the belief is there. Edinburgh got a win over the Sharks in South Africa two years ago, and the Ospreys got a win over the Lions at Ellis Park several weeks ago. 

“So, there’s a bit of belief building that teams can be beaten in South Africa and that’s a mindset we’ve got to take.”

Top four fight

In the fight for a place in the top four, which guarantees a home quarterfinal at least, Everitt conceded that it’s still a long way to go to decide the leading teams.

Edinburgh currently occupy fourth on the standings with 34 points, but they are only four points clear of the Stormers in ninth, to underline just how tight it is.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Rampant Bulls revel in momentum while Stormers grapple with do-or-die situation 

“You can see by the log it’s really tight. The Stormers are sitting in ninth because they are only four points behind us,” Everitt said.

“If we don’t get a win this weekend, we could find ourselves in ninth position. So, it’s something that probably won’t be decided until the final round of the URC, who finishes in the top eight and top four.

“I think any of the top eight or nine teams just now would have an opportunity to challenge for a place in the top four. I’m sure that’s what those teams will be playing for rather than playing against the name of the opposition.” 

Stormers equity deal completed

While it’s a crucial period for the Stormers, they also go into the Edinburgh clash with positive boardroom news.

Red Disa Investments formally completed its R150-million equity purchase of the professional arm of the union this week.

Red Disa is a consortium made up of Fynbos Ekwiteit (Pty) Ltd and Ardagh Glass Packaging Africa. Capitec Bank’s Michiel and Johan le Roux are shareholders in Fynbos Ekwiteit, while Paul Curnow is CEO of Ardagh, who recently acquired Consol Glass, among its many businesses. 

Marble Head Investments, the Cape-based personal investment company of Andre van der Veen, completes the consortium. 

Although the deal was accepted by the clubs that make up the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) last September, the consortiums’ bid needed to go through Competitions Commission scrutiny.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Sharks aim to resurface with vital cultural shift as defeats stack up to critical levels 

A new entity will be established, called Western Province Professional Rugby Pty Ltd (WPPR), with Red Disa as 71.5% shareholders, Marble Head 2.5% and the WPRFU holding 26%.

A new WPPR board with a maximum of 10 members will be established, on which the WPRFU will have no more than two seats. There will be independent directors as well as representatives from all the shareholders.

Clear break

It will be a clear break from the WPRFU when it comes to the running of professional rugby. Issues such as the sale of Newlands stadium, which is still threatening to sink the union, will not affect the business of professional rugby. 

“We are all really looking forward to this new chapter and to taking our organisation forward together,” Stormers coach John Dobson said. 

“The Red Disa Consortium clearly has the best interests of our team and their supporters at heart, and hopefully we can build on the strong foundation that we enjoy, given the considerable strength of rugby in the region and the passion that our wider community has for the game.” 

Decorated lock Eben Etzebeth made no excuses for his side’s poor run in the URC, with just one win in 11 games. (Photo: Steve Haag Sports/Gallo Images)

Other matches

The second-placed Bulls are the only team in the top half of the standings, while the Sharks meet Ulster with a chance to add to their one win throughout the season.

 The Lions meet Connacht in Galway, while the Bulls will battle it out with the Dragons in Newport.

 The pressure will be on the Sharks at home. They have struggled to close out a few tight games, which has seen them earn six losing bonus points.

 Springbok lock and recently crowned SA Player of the Year Eben Etzebeth was in no mood to sugarcoat his team’s performances this year.

“We haven’t had a good season so far and no excuses, we need to take a hard look at ourselves as individuals and as a collective,” Etzebeth said.

“Somehow, we haven’t been executing our plans and that’s disappointing, but we’ll be looking to rectify that over the remainder of the season and to make the last part of it a successful one.

“We’re looking to end strong, there’s always a sense of pride when we wear the Sharks jersey and win games, and that motivates the guys to not give up, but to make it difficult for the teams coming to Durban.” DM

Match information:

Sharks vs Ulster

Date: Saturday, 23 March

Venue: Kings Park, Durban

Referee: Ben Whitehouse

SA Time: 3pm

TV: SuperSport


Stormers vs Edinburgh

Date: Saturday, 23 March

Venue: DHL Stadium, Cape Town

Referee: Adam Jones

SA Time: 5.05pm

TV: SuperSport


Connacht vs Lions

Date: Saturday, 23 March

Venue: Dexcom Stadium, Galway

Referee: Craig Evans

SA Time: 7.15pm

TV: SuperSport


Dragons vs Bulls

Date: Saturday, 23 March

Venue: Rodney Parade, Newport

Referee: Eoghan Cross

SA Time: 9.35pm

TV: SuperSport 



Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options