Stormers coach John Dobson and captain Siya Kolisi say the team wants to give Newlands a fond farewell with a successful 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby season. DYLAN JACK reports.
This will be the final year that the Stormers use Newlands as a playing ground with a move to Cape Town Stadium set to come in 2021. While the stadium’s future is still very much up in the air, it brings an end to the Stormers’ association with the oldest stadium in the country.
Dobson said that the team is targeting a deep run into the Super Rugby playoffs to give their home ground a fitting farewell.
‘They are reporting at Newlands that people are phoning for season tickets, which has not happened for a while,’ Dobson said. ‘Which is brilliant. There is going to be a lot of emotion for them, but it has go to work in our favour. We absolutely love Newlands. There is only one real way to say farewell. We don’t want to overtalk what we are going to do in the competition but all of us in this room know what the ending should look like. It has to be in a Super Rugby late-stage, if not last-stage, playoff. That is the way to say goodbye to the great old lady of South African rugby.’
The Stormers have been handed a favourable draw for the 2020 season, with seven of their opening 10 fixtures at home. That gives the team the chance to build momentum before a number of tough away games in the second half of the season.
‘I think it is the first time we have had a draw like this in a long time,’ Kolisi said. ‘We will never make excuses but we could not have asked for a better way to start the season. It doesn’t matter who we are playing, if we are playing at Newlands, it should always be our fortress. It is something that we pride ourselves in.
‘One thing Dobbo reminded us of is that, it is not only our last year at Newlands, it is the other team’s last year as well. A lot of teams love coming to Cape Town. We want to make it special by not disappointing every Saturday by giving our best. That all starts here by how you come in and it is all about your attitude.
‘It is a different year. An emotional year for a lot of us,’ Kolisi added. ‘Not just us, but the faithful, who have been in and out supporting us. Finding out that it is our last year at Newlands, it is tough for a lot of us but we want to try and use it as a positive and give the people something to smile about. It has been a tough few years since 2010. With the squad that we have, we are very positive.
‘We are hoping people will come to make it a year of celebration and give the people something, so that they can say despite the challenges of the last couple of years that Newlands was really amazing.’
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