Hats off to the Stormers! What a result, and what a story this season has been for the Cape-based team.
Once written off as no-hopes in the URC, they have produced a remarkable comeback to be crowned the inaugural champs in the URC, utterly outplaying the Bulls when it mattered most on Saturday.
The result marked an 11th win in a row for the Stormers, who never lifted the title during their time in Super Rugby – beaten by the Bulls in their only final in 2010.
“It’s an incredible story of where we came from,” Dobson said after the match. “I was on a train outside Venice in that first game [against Benetton]. We didn’t know what we were going for. Somebody phoned me and there was talk of us being pulled out of the URC and being replaced by the Cheetahs. In fact, a journalist asked me that question on the train. So it is an amazing story…
“If I could put it down to something, it’s an unwavering work ethic and joy amongst our players. It’s just a really good group and we got them to believe in what we were trying to do.
“If you are sitting as one of the potential investors and see the product that was out there today in terms of crowd, passion, the result on the field, we are obviously going to be a sought-after investment. There is no question that people are going to buy into Western Province Rugby and Stormers rugby now.”
AS IT HAPPENED | STORMERS V BULLS – URC FINAL
Below we handed out ratings to the standout Stormers players from the final:
Deon Fourie (9/10)
What a story it has been this season for the 35-year-old Fourie, who has produced some of the best rugby of his career throughout this URC campaign.
Not only has his form earned him a remarkable recall to the Springboks, but in the so-called ‘Grand Final’, the veteran produced yet another standout performance.
Fourie almost single-handedly kept the Stormers in the game in the first half, earning a sequence of key turnovers at the breakdown.
The stalwart didn’t slow down at any point during the title decider, and really was the ‘beating heart’ of this Stormers effort in what was his 100th game for the coastal team.
Damian Willemse (8/10)
Another player who has reserved some of his best rugby for the big moments, and he was once again a key figure for the Stormers on Saturday.
Willemse was the Man of the Match in last weekend’s playoff, and again he delivered a gutsy performance in all facets of play against the Bulls.
The 24-year-old has really come of age over the last year, and is fully deserving of all the plaudits that come his way.
Warrick Gelant (8/10)
A key turning point in the final was the manner in which the Stormers took control in the second half with an astute kicking strategy.
Gelant was central to the execution of this strategy, with his grubbers and ability to read the game enabling the home side to take much-needed control of proceedings.
The fullback has forced his way into the Springbok squad through consistently influential performances, and once again he was outstanding in the final.
Evan Roos (7/10)
Once again, the big No 8 made his presence felt, with his powerful try early in the second half proving to be another key turning point.
He was strong in the carry, effective on defence, and came up trumps in the physicality stakes.
There is very good reason to think that Roos could be the starting No 8 for the Springboks during the upcoming July Test series against Wales.
READ | JOHN DOBSON: THE PUBLISHED AUTHOR WHO WROTE HISTORIC STORMERS CHAPTER