South African rugby side DHL Stormers defeated local rivals the Vodacom Bulls 18-13 in the United Rugby Championship (URC) Grand Final at the DHL Stadium on the weekend to be crowned winners of the tournament’s inaugural season.
A third-minute score from Harold Vorster helped the Bulls into a 7-3 lead at half-time, but Evan Roos replied early in the second period. Andre-Hugo Venter then added a second try for the hosts shortly after Bulls centre Cornal Hendricks was sin-binned. A late drop-goal from fly-half Manie Libbok sealed the result.
The competition was previously known as the Pro14 but was rebranded for the 2021-22 campaign following the introduction of four sides from South Africa.
The result marked an 11th win in a row for the Stormers, who never won the title during their time in Super Rugby and were beaten by the Bulls in their only final in 2010.
Fly-half Manie Libbok, the Stormers’ hero in the semifinal against Ulster, kicked eight points as his side recovered from being 3-7 down at halftime to win a tense finale at their home ground.
Stormers – (3) 18
Tries: Evan Roos, Andre-Hugo Venter
Conversion: Manie Libbok
Drop goal: Libbok
Bulls – (7) 13
Try: Harold Vorster
Conversion: Chris Smith
Penalties: Smith (2)
A huge win in every manner
It’s a massive achievement for the Capetonians as they have been plagued by boardroom and administrative issues over the years.
It was only in October last year when SA Rugby assumed administrative control of the Western Province Rugby Football Union.
“It’s an incredible story,” Stormers head coach John Dobson told reporters after Saturday’s Final. “I was in a train outside of Venice before that first game [against Benetton], and we didn’t know what was going to happen.
“Somebody phoned me to say that there was talk of us being pulled out of the URC and that we were going to be replaced by the Cheetahs.
“I had a journalist asking me that question on the train, so it’s an amazing story.”
Dobson is now expecting a few investors to come knocking on the door to building on the Stormers’ success.
“I think if you are sitting as one of the potential investors and see the product that was out there in terms of the result and crowd, then we are obviously going to be a sought-after investment,” said Dobson.
It was the Stormers’ 11th consecutive win in the competition and saw them exact revenge on the Bulls for their defeat in their only final in Super Rugby in 2010.