The future is bright for Stormers supporters as coach John Dobson expects investors to line up for a stake in the newly-crowned Vodacom United Rugby Championship winners. DYLAN JACK reports.
So often the bridesmaids, having lost out to the Vodacom Bulls in the 2010 Super Rugby final while compiling a track record of stumbling out of the playoffs, the Stormers on Saturday beat their northern rivals in the URC final to clinch their first major continental title.
It has, however, been a difficult journey for the Stormers to get to this point. Until the end of last year, Western Province Rugby was on the brink of financial ruin before SA Rugby stepped in and placed the union under administration.
“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.”
Dobson was humble in victory, pointing out that if it were not for one or two tries during the campaign, the Bulls or Sharks would have finished ahead of the Stormers in the South African Shield.
“In the Rainbow Cup we were second, we lost to the Bulls twice in the last seconds. In the Currie Cup, we finished second but lost the semi-final to the Sharks. Likewise, in this competition, it was incredibly tight. It goes down to Ruhan’s try in Llanelli to get us the Shield. It could have been the Sharks or Bulls ending top. I don’t think we were as bad as that or necessarily as good.
“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.”
As for the future, while WP Rugby remains under administration, Dobson said he was confident the union would be able to secure some form of private investment.
“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.”
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