The stage is set for an electrifying showdown as the DHL Stormers and Munster clash in the highly anticipated URC Grand Final.
Both teams have battled through a grueling season to reach this point, and now they stand on the precipice of glory. As the two sides prepare to go head-to-head, let’s take a closer look at their journey so far and what we can expect from this thrilling encounter.
Head-to-Head Record and Historic Feats
In terms of their overall URC head-to-head record, Munster holds the advantage, having won both of their previous encounters against the Stormers. However, records can be rewritten on the grandest stage, and the Stormers will be determined to overturn this statistic and claim their maiden victory over the Irish side.
The DHL Stormers are aiming to achieve a remarkable back-to-back URC title, a feat previously accomplished only by Leinster. The last time a repeat final venue was witnessed was in 2017 and 2018 at the Aviva Stadium. With their home ground, the DHL Stadium, hosting its second successive final, the Stormers will have the backing of their passionate fans as they look to etch their names in URC history.
Recent Form and Playoff Success
The Stormers have been in scintillating form, having secured victory in their last three matches since their home defeat to Munster earlier in the season. Remarkably, that loss was the Stormers’ only defeat at home in any competition since December 2021 when the Lions triumphed at the DHL Stadium. Furthermore, they have not tasted defeat in a playoff fixture since July 2017 when the Chiefs emerged victorious in the quarter-final of Super Rugby.
However, the Stormers’ triumphs over Irish provinces have been scarce this season, with their only two victories against Connacht. This adds another layer of challenge as they face Munster, a team with a strong track record in URC Finals.
Munster’s URC Final Legacy and Resilient Away Performances
For Munster, this is their seventh appearance in a URC Final. They have emerged victorious in two of their previous encounters, defeating Neath at the Principality Stadium in 2003 and triumphing over Leinster in Limerick in 2011. However, they have fallen short in their last three Championship finals, losing to Glasgow in 2015, Scarlets in 2017, and most recently, Leinster in 2021. Eager to redeem themselves, Munster will be highly motivated to seize the URC crown.
Munster’s recent away performances have been noteworthy. Although they suffered defeat in their opening four away games this campaign, they have been undefeated on the road since then. Their resilience and determination will be key assets as they aim to topple the reigning champions on their home turf.
When comparing the two teams’ performances in the URC this season, the Stormers finished in the third position with an impressive record of 12 wins, 2 draws, and 4 losses, amassing 68 points. Munster secured the fifth spot with 10 wins, 1 draw, and 7 losses, accumulating 55 points. Both sides have shown glimpses of their potential and have displayed resilience throughout the season.
In terms of recent form, the Stormers have claimed victory in their last three URC matches, accumulating 23 points. Similarly, Munster enters the final on the back of four consecutive unbeaten games, also earning 23 points. These statistics highlight the formidable form and momentum both teams bring to this climactic encounter.
Starting teams for Stormers v Munster
There are three personnel changes and one positional switch to the side that won away to Leinster in the semi-final.
Conor Murray, Malakai Fekitoa and Calvin Nash return to the side after completing their return to play protocols following the quarter-final against Glasgow.
Murray and Jack Crowley start together in the half-backs as Crowley moves from inside centre to out-half.
Fekitoa resumes his centre partnership with Antoine Frisch in midfield as Nash joins full-back Mike Haley and Shane Daly to start in the back three.
The pack is unchanged with Captain Peter O’Mahony joined by John Hodnett and Gavin Coombes in the back row.
Jeremy Loughman, Diarmuid Barron and Stephen Archer pack down in the front row while Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne start in the engine room.
RG Snyman joins the squad as a replacement.
Munster: 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.
URC Grand Final
Saturday, May 27
DHL Stormers v Munster, DHL Stadium, 5.30pm Irish time; Live on TG4