• Dobbo’s Super Stormers are a class act in SA Rugby

    The Sharks were very good, but this is a Stormers side that, in the history of the club, will set the standard of excellence, writes Mark Keohane.

    Forget, for a moment, the Sharks’ United Rugby Championship league position. Reflect on the match 23, and particularly the substitutes’ bench. It is some squad, coached by John Plumtree, who has led the Sharks for a decade and assisted for Ireland and the All Blacks.

    The Sharks were in Durban, in front of 31 000 and also fronting a wonderful media orchestrated weekend. I love the way the Sharks do business off the field, but they just don’t quite match it on the field. They need a proper international No 10 and a competent back-up to that 10.

    Curwin Bosch was a wonderful schoolboy 10 at Grey High. He is not the No 10 who will win the Sharks titles, let alone big matches.

    I’d ship him to France, where he would score many points and love life.

    But he isn’t the No 10 for the Sharks.

    I digress.

    This is about the Stormers but the Sharks provide context because, geez, they have some bloody good rugby players in their match-day squad.

    Lukanyo Am was a beast against the Stormers and Bongi Mbonambi turned a URC scrum contest in a Test match.


    But this particular thread is about John Dobson and the Stormers.

    They have achieved the most amazing things in the three-season history of the URC.

    Durban on Saturday was big, in terms of a result. The match analysis will be brutal and honest but it won’t detract from the fact they got the win in Durban.

    What is significant is that this Stormers squad, in the history of the URC, has the most incredible South African record.

    In this time, Dobson’s Stormers, winners of the inaugural URC title, losing home finalists in the second final and hosts to six successive play-off matches in the first two seasons, have won 16, drawn one (in Durban) and lost one, in 18 matches against the Bulls (seven successive wins), the Sharks (five wins and a draw) and the Lions (four wins from five) in the competition’s history.

    The Stormers have done this, often without their current Test Springboks, and, in the first year, without many established Springboks, won matches, won the title and created many first-time Springboks.

    I thought their win in Durban on Saturday was very good. The Sharks are a top four team and not a bottom of the table set-up.

    The Stormers played without World Cup winners Damian Willemse, Manie Libbok, Deon Fourie and Frans Malherbe.

    Just look at where they play, position specific.

    There is no better tighthead in world rugby than Malherbe. Kudos to stand-in captain Neethling Fouche who played 81 minutes. There is no substitute for the other three, in what they bring to the game or in their individual quality.

    This was a big win and often the big wins and the great teams are only recognised in retirement. Applaud this squad now but in particular give praise to Dobson and his coaches.

    In Johanneburg, Jake White’s Bulls scored a crucial URC win agains the Lions.

    For 50 minutes the Lions were the better team and should have led by 15. They lost by 15. It was heartache for the hosts but good news for the Bulls and South Africa’s URC challenge.

    The best news, though, was in Durban.

    The national game looked so strong in this contest, the origin of the players was celebrated through them wearing their schools’ socks and the rugby was intense and an invitation to ask for more.

    The Stormers won, and they had to be good to beat this Sharks team.

    Give them the necessary acknowledgement, not just for Saturday’s win but for 16 wins, one draw and one defeat against South Africa’s next best in the past three seasons.

    Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

    Article written by

    Keo has written about South African and international rugby professionally for the last 25 years