The Stormers celebrate with their fans in the background. Photo: URC website.

The Stormers celebrate with their fans in the background. Photo: URC website.

Stormers receive rough draw for Champions Cup

The Stormers’ ambitions to one day challenge for the Champions Cup will be fiercely tested in the 2023-24 season.

The Stormers celebrate with their fans in the background. Photo: URC website.

The Stormers celebrate with their fans in the background. Photo: URC website.

The Stormers, who have been the standout South African team for the last two years, have been drawn in a tough pool for the 2023-24 Champions Cup. The Cape side have been grouped with defending champions La Rochelle and Premiership finalists Sale Sharks.

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Along with La Rochelle and Sale Sharks, the Stormers were also joined by Leicester Tigers, Stade Francais and Leinster in Pool 4 of the Champions Cup.

The Bulls were drawn in Pool 1 with Premiership champions Saracens, French sides Bordeaux and Lyon, as well as English outfit Bristol Bears and Irish side Connacht.

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Stormers coach John Dobson has said there is a definite need to especially strengthen the team’s back three department ahead of next season.

“We definitely need to strengthen in the outside backs. With [Seabelo] Senatla’s serious injury, we are paper thin in the back three. We are scrambling for two proper game-breaking backs.” 

“We [Western Province Rugby Union] actually need the equity deal because we are in administration. My feeling is things are going to have to move very quickly otherwise we could miss them [new signings] next season.”

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Dobson said that a reported increase in the salary cap for South African franchises, as well as a private equity deal for Western Province Rugby, would be crucial for future success.

“The salary caps are now going to be increased and we need bigger and stronger groups,” said Dobson. “We have talented young players emerging in the Currie Cup, but this doesn’t provide an immediate solution to the problem with the Champions Cup.

“If you hypothetically have to play a Champions Cup game away from home with a front row of Steven Kitshoff, Joseph Dweba and Frans Malherbe, you have to have a front row in Cape Town preparing for the next URC game. If we go to Exeter, for example, there must still be a team in the Cape that is good enough to beat Munster.

“In our case it will come in the next year. We are going to do an equity transaction and the investment in players will have to be in the senior part of the group,” added Dobson. Our youth structures and feeding resources are excellent, but we may just need a few more players to be able to compete.

“For that, the salary limits will have to be increased and there must be an investment in the WP. Don’t forget that we did what we have achieved now under administration. If you are under administration, you work within the framework of austerity.”


Stormers players after losing the final
Stormers players Steven Kitshoff, Ruben van Heerden and Deon Fourie after losing the final. Photo: Stormers.