History and stats make the Vodacom Bulls favourites to win their third Vodacom Super Rugby title in four years when they host the Vodacom Stormers in the final of the 2010 tournament at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto at 17h00 on Saturday.
Among the distinctions held by the Vodacom Bulls are the fact that the defending champions will be aiming to become the third Super Rugby franchise to win back-to-back titles after claiming their second Super Rugby trophy last season following their 61-17 victory over the Chiefs in Pretoria. Only the Crusaders (2005, 2006 and 1998, 1999, 2000) and Blues (1996, 1997) have ever won consecutive competitions.
Other factors in their favour are:
• This is the Vodacom Bulls’ third Vodacom Super 14 final in four years – the Stormers are appearing in their first
• Nine Vodacom Bulls players – Wynand Olivier, Morné Steyn, Fourie du Preez, Pedrie Wannenburg, Victor Matfield, Danie Rossouw, Derick Kuün, Gurthrö Steenkamp and Pierre Spies – will be playing in their third Vodacom Super 14 final.
• Zane Kirchner, Jaco Pretorius, Dewald Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Werner Kruger and Chiliboy Ralepelle represented the Pretoria franchise during last year’s final.
• Jaco van der Westhuizen and Gary Botha were part of the successful Vodacom Bulls squad that competed in the 2007 Vodacom Super 14 at The Absa Stadium Durban. (Francois Hougaard and Gerhard van den Heever are the only Vodacom Bulls players selected in their starting line up who have not played in a Vodacom Super 14 final).
• The only Stormers to have appeared in a major final are Bryan Habana, twice with the Bulls in Vodacom Super 14, and with Stormers team-mates Schalk Burger and Jaque Fourie in a Rugby World Cup final.
• The Bulls have won five of the last six meeting between the two teams – the exception being the final round meeting two weeks ago when the Bulls fielded a team showing 14 changes from the previous week
Other statistics to note are:
• Matfield will lead the Vodacom Bulls for a record 60th time and could join former Crusaders captain Todd Blackadder and Richie McCaw as the most successful Super Rugby captains of all time should the Vodacom Bulls win by leading a team to the title on three occasions.
• The Vodacom Stormers have the best defensive record in the competition, conceding only 17 tries
• The Vodacom Bulls have the best attacking record in the competition, having scored 50 tries.
• The Vodacom Stormers have the best disciplinary record in the competition having received only one yellow card
• The defending champions have set a new South African record for the most points scored in a Super Rugby competition
• This will be the sixth occasion in the history of Super Rugby where a final will be contested in a local derby.
• It is the second time two South African franchises compete in a Vodacom Super Rugby final
• New Zealand sides have battled it out in four other finales. Two Australian teams have never competed in the final.
• This will be only the third occasion on which a New Zealand team have not competed for the coveted trophy.
• SARU referee Craig Joubert will handle his 50th Super Rugby game