United Rugby Championship

URC Final 2023: DHL Stormers vs Munster Rugby Final Preview

URC Final 2023: DHL Stormers vs Munster Rugby Final Preview

The DHL Stormers host Munster Rugby for the 2022/23 United Rugby Championship final at the DHL Stadium in Cape Town on May 27th here is a preview.

May 26, 2023 by Philip Bendon
URC Final 2023: DHL Stormers vs Munster Rugby Final Preview

The DHL Stormers will be seeking to claim back-to-back United Rugby Championship titles when they welcome Munster Rugby to the DHL Stadium on Saturday evening. 

Kicking off at 18.30 local time, the match will be played in front of a full house of 55,000 spectators at the iconic 2010 Fifa World Cup venue. 

Having met as recently as round 17, the two sides will be acutely aware of what the other brings to the contest. 

Emerging with a 26 – 24 victory on the day, Munster ended a 19-game winning streak for the Stormers at home in the URC. 

Such was the performance of the Irish side on the day that it took a late try for the Stormers to claim a losing point in a result that ultimately cost them second place on the regular season log. 

Yet, whilst Munster were the Stormers' regular season nemesis, the men in red would become their biggest allies, albeit temporarily, as they knocked over Leinster in Dublin to ensure that the final would take place in Cape Town. 

Whilst Munster would’ve been wishing for the Stormers to be upset by either the Vodacom Bulls or Connacht in the quarter or semi-finals to secure a home final of their own. Graham Rowntree’s men are a team on a hot streak when it comes to road victories, having been undefeated in their past seven away games in the URC. 

As ever, the men in red will be well supported as a reported 5000 loyal Munster supporters have made the trip 14,000km round trip to Cape Town to back their team.   

Thus, the stage is set for a rematch of what was one of the most ferocious fixtures of the 2022/23 season. 

Team News 

Starting with the champions, head coach John Dobson has made two changes to his team who defeated Connacht in the semi-finals. 

Welcoming back the Springbok duo of Deon Fourie and Marvin Orie is a significant boost for the Cape Townians, given the threat that Munster poses at both the line-out and breakdown. 

Fourie is one of the finest proponents of the turnover in the game today and will be tasked with negating the dynamic breakdown threats of Peter O’Mahony and Tadhg Beirne. 

Orie is perhaps the most important of the Stormers forwards this week, given the world-class line-out options available to Munster. Notoriously inconsistent at the line-out, Stormers hooker Joseph Dweba will look to utilise Orie’s ariel prowess to secure clean ball.

Munster head coach Graham Rowntree joins Dobson in making minimal changes but does welcome back the influential trio of Conor Murray, Malakai Fekitoa and Calvin Nash to the starting line-up. 

The three players missed the semi-final due to head injuries sustained in their quarterfinal meeting with the Glasgow Warriors. 

One further boost for the visitors is the return of giant Springbok secondrow RG Snyman who, too, left the quarterfinal with a head knock. 

Snyman has been sublime for Munster in his very limited outings, and such will be itching to get onto the pitch later in the contest. Having endured a horrendous run of injuries, Snyman will look to lay down a marker in what will be the last club opportunity ahead of the Rugby World Cup. 


Key Match-Up

As with any final, including two teams of this calibre, there are individual match-ups galore. 

None, however, are more important than the halfback duel between Irish internationals Conor Murray and Jack Crowley and their Springbok counterparts Herschel Jantjies and Manie Libbok. 

Murray is one of the finest scrumhalves in the game’s history, and whilst there is no doubt he is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, he remains a world-class operator. Having been pushed for both his place in the Munster and Ireland teams over the past two seasons, the 34-year-old will be looking to add a second URC title to his resume. 

His partner Crowley is one of the hottest young commodities in the world game and showed nerves of steel with his drop-goal in the dying moments to defeat Leinster in the semi-final. In general play, Crowley operates as a field general who controls proceedings with authority whilst having the individual spark to create magic out of nothing. 

For the Stormers, Jantjies appears to be regaining some of his best form at just the right time. Having slipped down the Springbok pecking order in recent seasons, the 27-year-old is hitting his peak years. Should he manage to come out on top of his individual dual with Murray, it will be a further marker that he is ready to push Faf de Klerk and Jaden Hendrikse for the Bok number nine shirt once again. 

Undoubtedly the most polarising of the four players is flyhalf Libbok, who has run hot and cold during his time in Cape Town. When in form, Libbok is without a shadow of a doubt one of the best flyhalves in the world. Probing the defensive line with his impeccable running and passing game whilst delivering pinpoint crossfield kicks, he is an edge-of-your-seat style player. On the flip side, when is slightly off, his goal-kicking is a complete lottery, whilst his decision-making becomes questionable. So far, throughout the play-off series, Libbok has been on an absolute heater and will need to keep this rolling to get his side over the line.


Home field advantage certainly plays a role in rugby matches, yet as last weekend’s Heineken Champions Cup final proved, at times, it can be overstated just how much of an impact it has. 

Having already seen off the Stormers in Cape Town, Munster will have no fear of playing in front of 50,000 raucous Cape Townians. 

In fact, with the experience of players such as O’Mahony, Snyman, Beirne, Murray and Keith Earls knocking about, they will likely thrive on the atmosphere. 

Certainly, the Stormers have earnt the right to enter the match as favourites, given their body of work and have the ability to blow away any side when given half a chance. 

The one feeling that remains, however, is that certain teams just have another’s number. Once again reverting to the Heineken Champions Cup final, Leinster started like a bat out of hell only to be reeled in by a La Rochelle side who have now beaten them three times in a row. 

Drawing the parallels to the first meeting between the two sides this season, the Stormers continually appeared on the verge of breaking the game open. Despite this, Munster restrained them before landing shots of their own. 

Throw into the mix Munster’s record away from home in recent months plus the return of several stars, and one gets a picture slightly less rosy than those in Cape Town might believe. 

Sure, this prediction may contradict many that will be doing the rounds, but Munster feels to be on the precipice of something significant. Whilst a loss will not negate the progress they’ve made, it will put a dampener on things. With so much on the line, Munster will upset the order of things and will emerge with their first piece of silverware in over a decade. Munster by 4. 


DHL Stormers: Damian Willemse; Angelo Davids, Ruhan Nel, Dan du Plessis, Leolin Zas; Manie Libbok, Herschel Jantjies; Steven Kitshoff (capt), Joseph Dweba, Frans Malherbe, Marvin Orie, Ruben van Heerden; Deon Fourie, Hacjivah Dayimani, Evan Roos 

Replacements: JJ Kotze, Ali Vermaak, Neethling Fouche, Ben-Jason Dixon, Willie Engelbrecht, Marcel Theunissen, Paul de Wet, Clayton Blommetjies. 

Munster Rugby: Mike Haley; Calvin Nash, Antoine Frisch, Malakai Fekitoa, Shane Daly; Jack Crowley, Conor Murray; Jeremy Loughman, Diarmuid Barron, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (C), John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes. 

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Josh Wycherley, Roman Salanoa, RG Snyman, Alex Kendellen, Craig Casey, Ben Healy, Keith Earls.