picture: withers and son photography
Fans were treated to a group of players, including non-playing Springboks such as Pieter-Steff du Toit, Damian de Allende, Steven Kitshoff and Siya Kolisi completing a rigorous hour-long fitness session.
The Stormers start their Super Rugby campaign in a fortnight with Saturday’s run-out against a motivated False Bay outfit and then a quality Combined Club XV, made up of talented local non-university club players, giving coaches opposition to measure progress to date in a match situation.
Both outfits delivered quality resistance for their esteemed opponents in a dress rehearsal before Sunday’s Super Hero Double Header at Cape Town Stadium.
False Bay delivered a high quality, competitive performance. Although going down by five tries to two, they were a determined, focused outfit on both attack and defence.
Their approach to offensive defence exerted the kind of pressure which ensured that this was not going to be a shadow rugby session and when given the opportunity to attack, the Bay ensured that the defensive structures of the Stormers were kept honest and focused.
The large crowd, Stormers fans to the core, soaked up the sun and occasion and the times that the local amateur team scored, raised the proverbial roof with their howls of delight.
They further demonstrated their appreciation of some of their favourites who took the opportunity to shine against their esteemed opposition.
“It was an outstanding occasion,” said Stormers assistant coach John Dobson.
“The vibe, the crowd, the passion. In some ways some elements of WP rugby at its best, competitive club teams and players, a big, diverse and cheerful crowd and some sublime skills.
“Both the Stormers opposition teams got stuck in and from a Stormers perspective it was a great exercise,” said Dobson.
False Bay coach Johnno van der Walt was happy with his team’s performance, especially considering the early stage of his team’s season.
“They were happy with our physicality and we managed to test their defence and cause a few overlaps resulting in us crossing their line on more than one occasion,” said Van der Walt.
“All-in-all we are happy. No injuries from our side and the guys got to test themselves against the best.”
Watching their heroes play the game from so much closer than at the larger stadiums also added a personal dimension to the occasion.
Yet it is the excitement and fervor of the fans that is the enduring memory of the day as scores of kids were given the opportunity to meet their heroes personally, secure an autograph gladly given and have a picture taken which will be treasured forever.
It is here that the humility of the players shone through as they patiently signed anything that would accept ink and posed with youngster, parents and grandparents.
Indeed when the Stormers participate in Sunday’s Superhero Double Header they will truly be superheroes to many who attended the day at Constantia.
Jon Harris is a member of False Bay RFC.