DM SPORTS TEAM OF THE YEAR RUNNER-UP 2022: Focused Stormers secure inaugural United Rugby Championship title against all odds

DM SPORTS TEAM OF THE YEAR RUNNER-UP 2022: Focused Stormers secure inaugural United Rugby Championship title against all odds

The cross-hemisphere continental title, with 16 teams from South Africa, Scotland, Ireland, Italy and Wales, had its detractors at first, but ended with a roaring success. And that was in no small part thanks to the success of the South African teams and the Stormers in particular.

Coach John Dobson somehow produced a team that played attractive, attack-minded rugby against a backdrop of despair at the WPRFU.

Perhaps the never-say-die attitude came from more than a year of boardroom drama and angst. At one stage players’ salaries were paid late and they never knew if there would be a next week for a union teetering on the brink of financial Armageddon.

Dobson kept the team focused on rugby, and when Rian Oberholzer arrived as administrator and the chain of command was clarified after months of muddiness as leadership battles played out in the boardroom, the coach was freed to coach. And the results were spectacular.

The Stormers ended second on the URC log by winning eight matches in a row and by the final they had stretched that sequence to an 11-match winning streak.

When they beat the Bulls 18-13 in the final in front of a half-full Cape Town Stadium (owing to Covid restrictions) it was obvious that on the field the Cape side was in fine fettle.

It was a dream ending for a side that never won Super Rugby in a quarter of a century of trying.

Along the way Dobson’s team flourished and players such as Manie Libbok, Evan Roos and old warhorse Deon Fourie went on to make deserved Test debuts for the Springboks. DM168

How we chose the People of the Year winners

In the past, Daily Maverick journalists decided who they thought warranted the title of Person of the Year, but for the second year running, we have asked readers to vote for their preferred choice, with the proviso that we still have the final say. Choosing the annual winners is a labour of love because that’s what it takes to get a bunch of DM editors to decide whether they agree or disagree with the choices of 13,000 readers.  Over the next few days, we shall republish online all the results in various categories. – Heather Robertson, DM168 editor

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R25.


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