In a celestial clash for supremacy, the Stormers and Munster are poised for a thrilling encounter in the 2023 United Rugby Championship final. Playing hosts after besting Connacht in their semi-finals, the Stormers are eager to bask in the fervor of the home crowd at a sold out Cape Town Stadium. Munster, the Irish underdogs who managed to beat Leinster in a nerve-wracking semi, are primed to journey to the Cape and grab their shot at the URC title with both hands. The regular season saw them trail the Stormers by 13 points, but on the grandest stage of the season, the scoreboard resets. The question remains - who will be best on the day and earn the coveted title of the 2023 URC champions? For now, the odds seem to be tilting towards the Stormers bagging a second URC.
Historically, Munster has maintained the upper hand in their past encounters against the Stormers, laying claim to a superior URC head-to-head record. However, the Stormers are resolute in their intent to rewrite this narrative and secure their maiden triumph over the Irish warriors. While past victories may feed the confidence, the fickle nature of the rugby battlefield at a brimming Cape Town Stadium guarantees nothing.
The Stormers, with their meteoric rise in form, have won their last three matches, having tasted defeat against Munster in Cape Town earlier this season. Interestingly, it was their only home setback across all tournaments since a tough loss to the Lions in December 2021. They still carry the scars from their last playoff defeat against the Chiefs in the Super Rugby quarterfinal back in July 2017, and they haven't suffered a loss since. Their only kryptonite this season appears to be Irish teams, with two narrow wins against Connacht, setting the stage for an intriguing showdown with Munster, a team that has carved their name in the URC Finals' folklore.
The roster for the eagerly big match is due to be released on Friday during the day. The recovery of former Western Province player, Jean Kleyn and Ben Healy from their in-game injuries during the semi-final against Leinster is anticipated to be concluded by then. Conversely, Malakai Fekitoa, Conor Murray, Calvin Nash and South African RG Snyman have returned to the squad, after missing the semi-final, and are ready to be called up. Additionally, the young scrum-half, Ethan Coughlan, from the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy, is included in the traveling team.
Saturday's URC final signifies a colossal occasion for Dobson as he aspires to construct a rugby dynasty. After laying sturdy groundwork last season, this home final provides the ideal opportunity to cement his legacy and augment the illustrious chronicles of Western Province and Stormers rugby. With a virtually identical playing roster and significant player progression throughout the season, the Stormers look even more better than during their 2022 campaign. Yet, with the bar raised even higher, the million-dollar question is - can they deliver under pressure?