South Africa's proudest rivalry to play out under the URC banner

South Africa's proudest rivalry to play out under the URC banner

Friday evening will see arguably the greatest South African rivalries play out in the heat of the Cape Town summer; the old North vs South derby or, in more modern terms, Stormers vs Bulls.

The Stormers were not at their best last weekend as they stuttered to victory over London Irish at the Cape Town Stadium in their Champions League Round 2 clash:


Jake White opted to take a diluted Bulls outfit to England where they were punished by Exeter Chiefs:


However, White will deploy his rested big guns for this weekend’s encounter with a much-changed side:


Scrum-half, Embrose Papier starts with Zak Burger primed to get a run from the bench. Lionel Mapoe slots in at outside centre with David Kriel still sidelined through injury. On the bench, Bismarck du Plessis comes in for Jan-Hendrik Wessels with Sebastian Lombard replacing Francois Klopper and Stravino Jacobs completing the impact squad at 23.

Nortje’s men head to the Cape for the first time since their valiant defeat in last season’s final. However, Nortje says that is all in the past and the team looks forward to a mouth-watering clash as they carve out new memories.

“It was a special game to be a part of, where there had to be a loser and a winner and unfortunately for us that day we came just short. It was obviously tough to lose in the final but we have put the past behind us and have had an exciting week as we build up to the match because the North versus South derby is always massive, for all of us.”

Nortje also said he is relishing his personal battle with the Stormers’ lock Marvin Orie.

“A fight against Marvin is always fun. You’re testing yourself against one of the best. I am very excited about that.

“Obviously I have great respect for Marvin. We are good friends off the field after being with the Boks together. I enjoy his company and learn a lot from him. I feel very sorry for [injured] Salmaan. He is a brilliant player. I hope we see him back on the field soon.

“I do think the Stormers have good depth. Marvin will take any young lock under his wing and thoroughly explain to him what will happen where. We expect nothing less.”

Stormers boss John Dobson seemed keen for tradition of this fixture to be honoured.

 "I think it's brilliant for South African rugby," he said.

"I feel it (the rivalry), and I think we all do. 

"It came up again when Jake came in and did such a good job of rebuilding the Bulls and they won two Currie Cups in one year. Then we got a couple of narrow wins (including the 2021/22 URC final) and it's been building up over a while.


"It's clear what this game means for the Bulls, too, by the fact they rested players in the Champions Cup. It's their plan for the season and I can't argue with that, but it's clear how much this game means to them and it's also incredibly important to us.

"This game could be played in any tournament and it would mean a lot, because that rivalry is back."

Stats & facts:

— Flanker Nama Xaba has extracted more penalties by jackalling at the ruck than any other player (five).

— The Stormers’ success rate off the tee is the highest in the league (88%) – they have scored 26 conversions and 16 penalty goals.

— The Stormers average the fewest contact metres per 80 minutes in the Vodacom URC (48.6).

— Making a total of 525, Bulls wing David Kriel has gained more metres with ball in hand than any other player in the URC.

— Bulls flyhalf Chris Smith has made the most metres in the league from penalty kicks, pushing his side a total of 1,401 metres down field. However, he has also thrown a league-high four forward passes.

— Veteran hooker Bismarck du Plessis has won as many turnovers, excluding when a penalty has been awarded, at the ruck as any other player (four = Marcus Rea).

— Facing off this weekend, Manie Libbok and Chris Smith are currently tied as the league’s top points-scorers, having scored 75 apiece.

— The Stormers lost their first two URC matches against the Bulls but have won three on the bounce since.

— The Stormers are on a 15-match winning streak at home and have won their last three league fixtures.

— The defending champion Stormers have lost just once in defence of their crown this campaign: 24-30 to Cardiff at the Arms Park on 22 October.

— The Stormers have won their last fifteen home games in the URC since the Lions beat them 37-19 at Cape Town Stadium on 4 December 2021.

— The Stormers have won their last five fixtures against fellow South African franchises since drawing 22-all with the Sharks in Durban in January.

— The Bulls have won their last four URC matches since their 17- 31 defeat to Munster in Limerick in Round 5.

— The Bulls have won two away games in the URC this season, beating the Lions in Johannesburg on the opening weekend and Benetton in Treviso in Round 6.

— The Bulls’ only defeat in their last four URC matches against South African opponents was in last season’s final to the Stormers.

— The Stormers have won their last three encounters with the Bulls in the URC since Bulls 31-27 win in Pretoria in the Rainbow Cup in June 2021.

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