The DHL Stormers will open their 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby season against the Bulls in Pretoria, with the 2011 and 2012 SA Conference champions set to play three all-SA derbies inside the first month of next year’s competition.
The DHL Stormers will face up to the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on the opening weekend of the 2015 tournament (Saturday, February 14), before playing host to the Blues, from New Zealand, at DHL Newlands on Saturday, February 21 (kick-off 17h05).
Thereafter, the team will head to Ellis Park on February 28 (against the Lions), before hosting the Sharks (March 7) and the Chiefs from New Zealand (March 14) on successive weekends at DHL Newlands – where they will continue to play their Vodacom Super Rugby match fixtures at DHL Newlands, despite a media report to the contrary on Wednesday.
The Stormers will have a bye on the weekend on March 20-22, 2015, before embarking on their four-match tour of Australasia, which will see them take on the Highlanders, the Hurricanes, the defending champion Waratahs and the Force in the space of four weeks.
The Men from Cape Town will be back at home in late April, which will then see them play five matches at DHL Newlands in eight weeks ahead of the play-offs which start at the end of the June with the 2015 Super Rugby Final set for Saturday, July 4.
Commenting on his team’s draw for next year, DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee told www.iamastormer.com: “There’s no such thing as an easy match in the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament. It might sound like a cliché, but I really mean it.
“We start with a tricky trip in Pretoria and then we have an equally challenging first home game against the Blues before two more SA derbies and then another difficult one at home, the Chiefs (the winners in 2012 and 2013).
“It’s a tough start,” he added, “but we’re excited about the challenge which comes with playing in a tournament like this.”
The DHL Stormers won’t be playing against the Crusaders (of New Zealand) or the Reds (of Australia) in 2015, but Coetzee dismissed the notion that it made their schedule any less demanding.
“I definitely don’t think that it makes things any easier (not playing against the Crusaders or the Reds),” he said.
“All the teams in the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament are evenly matched, with all the sides – across all the conferences – having shown a huge improvement in recent years.
“That said, squad depth and experience are more crucial in a gruelling tournament like this one. Having your best and battle-hardened players fit for the big games, especially when it comes to challenging for a play-off spot, is more important than weighing up whether or not your draw is a favourable one (or not).”
The DHL Stormers’ 2015 Super Rugby fixtures:
(All kick-off times local (SA time); home games in bold)
Saturday, February 14: Bulls v DHL Stormers Loftus Versfeld (Pretoria) – 19h10
Saturday, February 21: DHL Stormers v Blues, DHL Newlands (Cape Town) – 17h05
Saturday, February 28: Lions v DHL Stormers, Ellis Park (Johannesburg) – 19h10
Saturday, March 7: DHL Stormers v Sharks, DHL Newlands (Cape Town) – 19h10
Saturday, March 14: DHL Stormers v Chiefs, DHL Newlands (Cape Town) – 15h00
March 20/21/22 – BYE
Saturday, March 28: Highlanders v DHL Stormers, Forsyth Barr Stadium (Dunedin) – 08h35
Friday, April 3: Hurricanes v DHL Stormers, Westpac Stadium (Wellington) – 08h35
Saturday, April 11: Waratahs v DHL Stormers, Allianz Stadium (Sydney) – 11h40
Saturday, April 18: Force v DHL Stormers, NIB Stadium (Perth) – 13h45
Saturday, April 25: DHL Stormers v Bulls, DHL Newlands (Cape Town) – 19h10
Saturday, May 2: Cheetahs v DHL Stormers, Free State Stadium (Bloemfontein) – 17h05
Saturday, May 9: DHL Stormers v Brumbies, DHL Newlands (Cape Town) – 17h05
May 15/16/17 – BYE
Saturday, May 23: DHL Stormers v Rebels, DHL Newlands (Cape Town) – 19h10
Saturday, May 30: DHL Stormers v Cheetahs, DHL Newlands (Cape Town) – 17h05
Saturday, June 6: DHL Stormers v Lions, DHL Newlands (Cape Town) – 17h05
Saturday, June 13: Sharks v DHL Stormers, Kings Park (Durban) – 19h10
Super Rugby Qualifiers:
Friday/Saturday, June 19/20 (TBC)
Super Rugby Semifinals:
Friday/Saturday, June 26/27 (TBC)
Super Rugby Finals:
Saturday, July 4 (TBC)