The famous 1999 Stormers team have the opportunity to make up for a dismal end to their campaign when they face the 2009 Bulls in Game 12 of the Greatest Super Rugby Team tournament.
Nicknamed the ‘Men in Black’ after the colour of their playing kit, the Bob Skinstad-led Stormers looked set to clinch their first title when they won six of their first eight matches, including a 28-19 victory over the eventual title-winning Crusaders team at Newlands.
However, they got a speed wobble after losing Skinstad to a season-ending knee injury before suffering a stunning 18-16 defeat by the Cats. The Stormers finished second, level on points with the table-topping Queensland Reds.
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That result drew the sting from the team and they were not helped by newspaper reports of a player rebellion within their ranks on the morning of their home semi-final against the Highlanders, which the fired-up Otago team would go on to win 33-18.
There is a feeling that this team never quite fulfilled its potential, especially as they were the first South African team to qualify for a semi-final and had a game plan more varied than that of many other opposition.
Blessed by the astute man management of coach Alan Solomons, the skill of Percy Montgomery, Breyton Paulse, Robbie Fleck and De Wet Barry and the power of Selborne Boome, Corne Krige, Charl Marais and Cobus Visagie, this was a squad that definitely had the quality to win a title.
They will be up against Frans Ludeke’s mighty Bulls. Unbeaten at home, the Bulls would set a number of records in 2009, including the highest winning margin in a final when they thrashed the Chiefs 61-17 at Loftus Versfeld.
The 2009 Bulls set a Super Rugby single-season record with 10 wins and scored 37 tries. Bryan Habana scored eight of those tries, Pierre Spies seven and Akona Ndungane and Wynand Olivier six each. Morne Steyn’s 191 points were also the most in the competition, the highest ever for a Bulls player and his 11 drop goals a new competition record.
SA Rugby magazine’s tournament to crown the Greatest Super Rugby team of all time relies on your votes to decide the outcome of each match-up – don’t forget to vote below!
2009 Bulls – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewaldt Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Derick Kuhn, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Subs: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Rayno Gerber, 18 Danie Rossouw, 19 Pedrie Wannenburg, 20 Heini Adams, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Marius Delport.
1999 Stormers –15 Percy Montgomery, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Robbie Fleck, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Pieter Rossouw, 10 Braam van Straaten, 9 Dan van Zyl, 8 Bobby Skinstad (c), 7 Robbie Brink, 6 Corne Krige, 5 Johnny Trytsman, 4 Selborne Boome, 3 Cobus Visagie, 2 Charl Marais, 1 Robbie Kempson.
Subs: Manie du Toit, Louis Koen, Joggie Viljoen, Anton Leonard, Hottie Louw, Toks van der Linde, Tommy Webb.