WP rise from slumber
Cape Town – Western Province are once again a team capable of reaching finals, but the final building block in the revival of the Cape rugby union is to start winning those games.
Only footage of WP captain Schalk Burger holding a trophy aloft will prevent doubts that a giant of South African rugby has risen from its slumber.
The Stormers had the opportunity in the Super14, but lost the final to the Bulls in Soweto. Now Western Province have that opportunity in Saturday’s Currie Cup final against the Sharks in Durban.
Stormers and WP coach Allister Coetzee believes valuable lessons can be taken from the Super 14 experience.
“There is now a culture of making play-off games, but we also want to create a culture of winning those games. It was wonderful to make the Super 14 final and of course we would have liked to win it,” said Coetzee.
“But was the goal just to make it to the final or to win it? That is the question we are asking of ourselves and it’s something we have discussed. We learned from the experience and that will help us on Saturday.”
Province may not have played in a Currie Cup final since 2001, but the Stormers had to go to Soweto for an intense experience in the Super 14 final.
The Stormers lost to the Sharks in the Super 14, but the Shark Tank is not a venue that the players have not experienced before. A Shark Tank full of bees may be, but it’s probably safe to predict that the final will kick off at the scheduled time.
One would also expect WP to have control over the butterflies in their stomach.
That clearly was not the case with the Stormers in the Super 14 final when they trailed 0-16 after just 25 minutes.
“We conceded penalties through over-eagerness. You can’t do that against Morné Steyn or Patrick Lambie,” said Coetzee.
“In the semi-final against the Cheetahs we managed to build on our lead. You shouldn’t sit back and defend. You should rather take confidence from a lead and build on it.”
Coetzee feels his side has grown since the experience in Soweto.
“Lessons were learned and it was a good experience for the guys. Yes, perhaps it was a case of the Bulls playing their second game there and we our first. We did not realise how bad the noise levels in the stadium would be,” he said.
“There will also be noise in the Absa Stadium, but hopefully not bees!
“It’s a passionate crowd and the Sharks last lost there in February (against the Cheetahs in the Super14). It’s the Sharks on their home field and will be very tough.”
All four of the Sharks’ Currie Cup league defeats this year were indeed outside Durban, which puts the magnitude of the challenge facing WP in perspective.
But no-one ever said the road back to the summit in South African rugby would be easy.