The last time that the Bulls and the Stormers met in a final was in the 2010 Super Rugby season. The final took place at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto between the two South African sides who had ranked 1st and 2nd on the log during the regular season. Both teams were in fine form having secured 10 wins from their 13 games before making their way through the play-offs.
Fans of the Stormers have had to wait 12 years for their chance at revenge, having lost that fixture 25 - 17. They have never been better placed to do so however, as the final will now take place in their back yard and on the back of them topping the SA conference in the URC. The Stormers will be throwing everything include the Kitshoff sink at Jake Whites Bulls this weekend, in order to secure their first ever major trophy.
2010 was a long time ago, referee Craig Joubert was in his prime, the Bulls boasted the likes of Victor, Pedrie, Danie, Fourie and Spies. The Stormers were equally powerful with Burger, Duane and Flouw filling out their loose trio, Habana and Fourie in their backline and Bok players littered throughout their side. Most of these players are retired now and will be watching the URC final with phone in hand for a cheeky message to their opponents from 2010, depending on who comes out on top.
There are however 3 players who have not hung up their boots, who are still plying their trade at the same franchises and who will be all to eager to set the record straight. Morne Steyn was the Bulls starting flyhalf in 2010, kicking 6 penalties and a conversion, giving him 20 of the Bulls 25 points on the day, with a try to Francois Hougaard the only other score. Morne is just as lethal now as he was then, if not even more so. He has kicked the B & I Lions out of a series again in 2021 and just last weekend slotted the match winner to knock Leinster out of the play-offs for the first time in 5 years. Steyn will likely feature from the bench, but the Stormers will be weary of his ability to punish them at the death if the game is in the balance.
Looking over at the Stormers squad, Brok Harris started at tight head prop in 2010, packing down opposite Gurthro Steenkamp. Harris has also returned to Cape Town to give back to his old side and will likely feature off the bench this weekend. Should he make his way onto the field in the latter stages of the contest, he will go head to head with Bulls up and comer Simphiwe Matanzima who has not missed a tackle the entire season. The set piece will be a crucial battle area and Harris will be pushing to set the record straight in this department.
In possibly the greatest story of South African rugby in 2022, Deon Fourie will start at 6 on the weekend. Fourie was on the bench in 2010, not as a flanker but rather as a hooker. He played 2nd fiddle to Tiaan Liebenberg back then but now at the age of 35, he is playing the best rugby of his career. Fourie has been so instrumental for the Stormers this season that his stellar form has earned him his first Bok call-up. The Hooker turned flanker is a great success story and there is no doubt that he could prove to be the thorn in the Bulls side come Saturday. I eagerly await his battle with Bulls duo of Coetzee and Louw.
Saturday is a chance for one of these two sides to claim their place in history as the first ever winner of the United Rugby Championship. It is also the chance for these players to set the record straight, but more than anything else, South African rugby will be the winner this weekend.