The French just hate a game that is determined by one point – and one point only. South Africans must love it. First the Springboks at the World Cup and now the DHL Stormers in the Investec Champions Cup, writes Mark Keohane.
This was just simply nasty towards the French after the Boks had done them 29-28 in the World Cup quarter-final in Paris.
But, hell, it was enjoyable in the one minute Manie Libbok took to nail a match-winning touchline conversion as the Stormers beat the back-to-back competition champions La Rochelle by a point in Cape Town.
The Stormers won 21-20 in a bizarre match, where if they had won by 20 it would not have been a surprise and if they had lost by 20 it would not have been a surprise, given how the match played out in front of a Cape Town crowd that were privileged to watch the home team win.
For those who ever complain about a play-off ticket price … ON YOUR BIKE.
If you can’t make the effort to watch the Stormers play the best team in Europe in the past two seasons – a team filled with internationals – against a team boosted by three World Cup-winning Springboks, then seriously consider those social media keyboard warrior claims of being the most passionate supporters of rugby in the world.
Right now, Capetonians are failing themselves in not getting to a stadium to watch wonderful players beat the best in the world.
The Stormers, who had sent a B team to play Leicester a week ago, looked liked they had jogged from Bellville to Green Point for the match, such was their absence in the opening 30 minutes.
Former Stormers wing Dillyn Leyds, who started for La Rochelle on the right wing, in the week said that when he played for the Stormers at home in Cape Town the team grew an extra arm and leg. On this occasion the Stormers grew an extra heart.
Somehow, they fashioned the win in injury time, having trailed for 82 minutes.
La Rochelle, who have beaten Irish giants Leinster in the Champions Cup final in the past two seasons, sent their strongest available team to Cape Town – and came up short, despite some very favourable officiating.
They will curse a late try being overturned because of the Television Match Official’s intervention on a head clash with Stormers hooker Andre-Hugo Venter. Then again, the Stormers were cursing a La Rochelle try being awarded when Leyds knocked on and threw a forward pass.
This was a game both teams will feel they didn’t deserve to lose or win, but all that matters right now for Stormers players, coaches, owners, management and supporters is that the Stormers did win.
The significance of the win cannot be overstated.
The Stormers on Saturday beat the champions of the Champions Cup.
That they did it with a point is not the point. That they won is the point.
A week ago, the Bulls trounced three-times Champions Cup champions and so many times English Premiership champions Saracens.
To put the French and English big boys to sleep is BIG.
It was also the perfect thank you from the coach, management team and players to new Stormers owners, Red Disahttps://www.sarugbymag.co.za/red-disas-stormers-takeover-gets-green-light/, who this week had their investment in the Stormers approved by the South African government’s Competition Commission approved.
South Africans, enjoy it and appreciate what the likes of the Stormers and Bulls are building is a narrative that the hardest place to win a game is in South Africa, south and north. Ditto the four-time World Cup-winning Springboks.
For the rest of Europe, be warned we in South Africa are coming for everything.