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WP Currie Cup clash could be moved to preserve Cape Town Stadium pitch for URC final

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Key areas of the field are muddy because of the wear and tear on the pitch and it’s become increasingly difficult for the forwards to scrum and maul.

Marcel Theunissen of Stormers scores a try during the United Rugby Championship 2022/23 semi-final match between Stormers and Connacht held at Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa
Key areas of the field are muddy because of the wear and tear on the pitch and it’s become increasingly difficult for the forwards to scrum and maul. Seen here: Marcel Theunissen of Stormers scores a try. Picture: Nic Bothma/BackpagePix

Cape Town – The Stormers want the DHL Stadium pitch to be preserved for the United Rugby Championship (URC) final on May 27 against Munster, which means Friday’s Western Province Currie Cup match against the Pumas will most likely not take place at their home stadium.

It’s been tough going for the defending champions in getting their dominant scrum and rolling maul going in the last couple of home matches.

Key areas of the field are muddy because of the wear and tear on the pitch and it’s become increasingly difficult for the forwards to scrum and maul.

With the first scrum in the semi-final against Connacht, the turf lifted under the iron studs of the packs. When the first rolling maul was set, the same happened.

Luckily for the home side, the final is only in two weeks and that will give the pitch some time to recover.

“The field preservation is important,” Stormers coach John Dobson said when asked if his Currie Cup side will play at the stadium this Friday.

The safe bet would be to move the game away, to make sure that the grass gets the most time to recover ahead of the grand finale. Stellenbosch’s Danie Craven Stadium or City Park in Athlone could possibly host the WP team if the decision is made to move the game.

Dobson added that they will wrap their URC players in cotton wool similar to what was the case ahead of the quarter-final with the Bulls. Then the team also had two weeks to prepare and Dobson gave his players time off to recuperate.

“We will get some work done on Tuesday and Wednesday and then give the guys a break. It will almost be identical to our Bulls’ preparation. At this stage, an extra three kilos on the bench press won’t win you the URC.

“I just have to run things past the conditioning guys.

“All our coaches are working hard on the Currie Cup. It was a full day of training. It’s just going to be too disruptive to risk anybody on Friday night who will definitely play in the URC final.

“The fact that we can rest a bit now, and have a full training week next week, it’s a big thing for us.”

Apart from long-term injuries to Nama Xaba (flank), Salmaan Moerat and Ernst van Rhyn (locks), and wings Seabelo Senatla and Suleiman Hartzenberg, the Stormers will have a full complement of players available.

Two Springboks who missed the semis, Deon Fourie (hamstring) and Marvin Orie (shoulder), should also be available as they could’ve played against Connacht but the Stormers did not want to risk them.

Dobson also saved some praise for Munster who had to win two play-off games away from home to get to the final.

That away record could worry the Stormers a bit, but they are eager to defend their crown at home.

“They beat us (the last time out) and we’ve spoken about them and there is a similar rugby culture in Limerick (as to here). We saw the Munster flags hanging in the streets while driving to Thomond Park. It’s one of the cathedrals of world rugby.

“It’s two proud clubs that managed to pull themselves up and make a final of the URC. It’s a great occasion. It caught us a little by surprise, but we are thrilled it is in Cape Town.”

@Leighton_K

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