The 2022/23 season saw the DHL Stormers take on new challenges and grow in a number of key areas.
They contested five play-off games, four of which were at DHL Stadium, across two competitions as they made a succesful entry into the Heineken Champions Cup and played in a second successive Vodacom United Rugby Championship Grand Final at home.
Apart from these impressive performance markers, there was also important depth built across the squad, with over 50 players representing the DHL Stormers this season.
Perhaps most significantly the team’s connection with their faithful fans was strengthened even further, with six crowds of over 30 000 and three of over 40 000 through the season, culminating in a sold-out crowd of over 56 000 at the Vodacom United Rugby Championship Grand Final.
While ultimately disappointed to fall just short at the final hurdle, with Munster taking the trophy in a hard-fought Grand Final, on reflection Head Coach John Dobson pointed out that the team’s goals for the season were all realised.
“Our goals at the start of the season were to increase our depth, prove we belong at the top table of the Vodacom URC and Heineken Champins Cup and increase the sense of belonging of everyone in the group, from the ground staff through to the non-playing squad, and make Cape Town smile.
“I think we have taken a massive step forward this season. Last season I felt like we were red-lining the whole time and I feel like we have got more deth, more substance and more understanding now,” he said.
All of this was achieved playing a brand of rugby which is aligned with the DNA of the region. Based on a strong set-piece and uncompromising defence, the players are given licence to express themselves and make use of their considerable skills once opportunities to do so present themselves.
Looking forward, Dobson would like to see the squad depth continue to grow, to ensure that they are able to be consistently competitive in all competitions.
“We probably need a few more players to compete, the structures and junior pathways we have are excellent,” he added.
There has already been significant player development within the squad, as promising players gain valuable experience in different conditions, while only two players in Steven Kitshoff and Ernst van Rhyn are leaving.
The challenge ahead will be to continue competing at the top-end of both competitions and challenging for silverware while deepening the sense of belonging for the players, management and supporters, as the DHL Stormers seek to continue to build on what they have already achieved over the past two seasons.