Dobbo’s diary: Home advantage

PUBLISHED: March 29, 2023

There is so much truth to the lift a team gets from a buoyant home crowd. We’ve experienced it so much in the past year when playing at the DHL Stadium.

It is our home and the boys have been brave and brilliant in winning 20 successive home matches in the past year.

The Vodacom URC final was electric with over 30 000 in attendance and the semi-final was as dramatic as you will get, with us scoring with the final play of the match to tie the scores 15-all against Ulster. Manie (Libbok) then kicked a magnificent touchline conversion to win the game and, thanks to the Vodacom Bulls knocking over Leinster in Dublin, we got to host the first ever Vodacom URC Final. Covid regulations then restricted us to 30 000 as a maximum crowd and 30 000 were part of DHL Stormers history.

What an occasion it was. It will forever be special to this group of players and our supporters.

This season, in all our planning and discussion with the players, our messaging emphasized how imperative it was that we backed up our performance of last season, maintained consistency and won enough matches to put ourselves in contention for a home play-off in the Vodacom URC and also to get the maximum reward in the Heineken Champions Cup and hopefully get a home play-off.

The messaging to the Currie Cup squad has been the same. We want to be in the top four come the play-offs and preferably we want to be in the top two play hosts in the final fortnight of the competition.

We’ve built squad depth, exposed players to the most taxing of conditions and we’ve won more than we have lost. It has been an education to travel to Pretoria, back to Cape Town, to Dublin and back to Durban for the coaching staff.

We did this all in less than two weeks and this weekend we get to be back in Cape Town in a different competition, the coveted Heineken Champions Cup.

What a thrill to be playing at home. We won three of our four pool matches, including away to London Irish and because of the pool structure our points were good enough to ensure that we would host the last 16 play-off.

By coincidence we get to play London’s Harlequins, who are also sponsored by DHL, which means that Saturday is a DHL cross hemisphere derby day, which makes for an historic occasion.

There wouldn’t be a better way to celebrate this bit of history than in front of a crowd of 50 000. It would mean everything to the boys and there is the added enjoyment of watching the Currie Cup side play Windhoek Draught Griquas afterwards.

The support this season has been fantastic and humbling. So many of you made the effort in December to add to our advantage when playing the Vodacom Bulls on the 23rd of December and the Emirates Lions on the last day of the year, in what was also two history-making occasions.

We had never played league matches at home in December, two days from Christmas and on the 31st of December. Yet 30 000 turned up to watch us play the Vodacom Bulls and 15 000 cheered us on against the Emirates Lions a week later. Thank you.

When we played the Cell C Sharks in our most recent match at the DHL Stadium, 31 000 made it to the ground, which was the biggest crowd for a home DHL Stormers match since 2017.

We want to make ourselves proud and by extension every supporter proud in the way we play and the fight we have to stay in the contest, and we want to turn the DHL Stadium into a fortress. That is made easier when the stands are full.

Let’s all make some history on Saturday. You all fill the stadium, and we go for the win and a 21st successive match of home celebration.

It is going to be massive. Quins are a seriously good team and I’d like to think both teams will produce a match of the highest quality.

Chat next week,