Soaring Stormers creating ‘new home’ away from Newlands: ‘We’ll defend it with our lives’

Seabelo Senatla of the Stormers celebrate (Gallo)

Seabelo Senatla of the Stormers celebrate (Gallo)

  • The Stormers have won their last eight home fixtures in the United Rugby Championship. 
  • Skipper Steven Kitshoff says they are building a “new home” at Cape Town Stadium. 
  • Kitshoff also praised the way his charges had stood up during a difficult time for the union.

There were 13 156 spectators at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night as the Stormers beat Leinster 20-13, but it felt like a lot more than that.

This was easily the Stormers’ best home turnout this United Rugby Championship season, and those who made the trip into Green Point were vocal, passionate and fully behind the men in blue.

Now, with one round of fixtures remaining, the Stormers are lying fourth on the URC log, tied on point with Munster (2nd) and the Sharks (3rd), and if they beat Scarlets in Llanelli in their final group stage match on 21 May, then they stand a good chance of securing second place on the log and further home ground advantage for the upcoming quarter-finals and potentially the semi-finals, too.

A union that has moved on from one of the most iconic rugby venues in South African history in Newlands, the Stormers are now finding their feet on their new stomping ground.

As skipper Steven Kitshoff said after the match on Saturday night, the world-class facilities at the Cape Town Stadium make it an attractive place to play, and when the fans turn out as they did this weekend, even more so.

“It was absolutely brilliant and the atmosphere in the stadium was electric,” said Kitshoff.

“I’m just so chuffed to have the faithful back, and hopefully there is a quarter-final here so they can come out in their masses again.

“You do miss Newlands and the smell of the brewery and the hot dog stands when you drive in, but we are creating a new home here and we have decided we are going to defend this place with our lives. As the years go on, I think that will get better and better.”

The Stormers have been the form South African side in the competition in recent weeks, with their offloading game and willingness to attack from deep making them an attractive side to watch.

The nature of Saturday’s battle meant there was less of that fearlessness in attack, however, and the Stormers were also not at their best.

“Even though we got the win tonight, the guys are still disappointed in the performance, so you can actually see the standard we are setting for ourselves,” said Kitshoff.

“We expect such a high quality of play from ourselves.”

Still, things are looking up in Cape Town.

It has not been the easiest road for this union, with administrative uncertainty rife as the battle between suspended president Zelt Marais and SA Rugby continues.

Those developments are obviously out of the control of the players and coaching staff, but performances and results this season have restored some much-needed credibility to a union that not long ago appeared to be on the ropes in every way.

“It’s just the maturity of this team and the way the guys actually stood up in tough, dark time times,” said Kitshoff.

“Everyone was almost writing off Western Province Rugby and the Stormers, and we’ve come through and put up performances week in and week out.

“This group – the players, management, administrators – have stood up and they want to go all the way.”

“I’m extremely proud and happy to be part of something special.”

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