Deon Fourie Stormers in URC

Stormers veteran Deon Fourie in action. Photo: URC/Twitter.

The URC is a field of dreams for Springbok duo

The URC is a field of dreams and when Springboks Marco van Staden and Deon Fourie square off, this sentiment will be further enforced.

Deon Fourie Stormers in URC

Stormers veteran Deon Fourie in action. Photo: URC/Twitter.

The URC is a field of dreams and when Springboks Marco van Staden and Deon Fourie face of against each other in Pretoria on Saturday, this sentiment will be further enforced.

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In 2022 Deon Fourie became the oldest Springbok debutant, at 35 years old, off the back of a spectacular season for the Stormers which culminated in them beating the Bulls, in Cape Town, to win the inaugural URC Championship title.

When the Bulls host the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, Fourie will battle a player nine years his junior, in Marco van Staden.

Van Staden’s career trajectory to Test rugby was vastly different to that of Fourie’s. At the start of 2018, Van Staden was playing for Tuks in the Varsity Cup, by the end of that year he had made his Springboks debut. 

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The Bulls flanker became the first South African rugby player to play at university, franchise and international level in a single year.  Despite bursting onto the Test scene at the end of 2018, Van Staden would miss out on a ticket to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

In 2021, Van Staden headed north for a short, but unfruitful spell with Leicester Tigers, where he struggled with concussions and very little game time. After being released by the Tigers at the beginning of 2022, the opensider was offered a lifeline to return home to the Bulls, and he responded with performances of such a standard that it earned him a Springbok recall for the end-of-year tour.

“In rugby, injuries happen to all of us. You can either sulk and think the world has come down on your or you can see it as an opportunity to come out of that injury as a better, stronger rugby player and person,” Van Staden told the URC media team.

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In his rugby adventure, Fourie has spent considerably more time in Europe than Van Staden. The veteran utility forward began his career at Western Province in 2006, and went on to play in some star-studded Stormers sides. 

In 2014, Fourie moved to France where he enjoyed seven successful years between Lyon and Grenoble. Despite Fourie’s success in France, it took him to return to South Africa in 2021, and express his skillset in the URC, to illicit interest from the Springbok management. Within a year he was finally a Test-capped Springbok.

“Seven years ago when I went overseas, I put any hope of the Boks on the backburner,” Fourie told the South African media. 

“Every rugby player from the age of four until he retires dreams of playing for the Boks, and for it to happen to me at last just proves that people should never give up on their dreams,” the URC star added.

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Fourie, can play hooker, flank and No 8, and has been one of John Dobson’s most important squad members as the Stormers coach has built a culture of success with a young and talented group in the URC. 

Equally, Van Staden is central to the way in which the Bulls play, and is consistently proving that there is a lot more rugby left in him than many believed at the beginning of last year.

Both players, polarised in their path to Test rugby, and each at a very different stage of their respective careers, are proving equally impactful in their current contexts, and find themselves vying for space in the Springbok squad in a World Cup year.

Come Saturday, the heart of the URC match will be the breakdown where Fourie and Van Staden will dictate terms as they strive towards making their Rugby World Cup debut.

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Marco van Staden in action for Bulls in URC.
Marco van Staden in action for Bulls in URC.