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URC Final: Dobson opens up on playing surface doubts

SPOTLIGHT: Stormers head coach John Dobson is expecting some improvements in the surface at Cape Town Stadium for the United Rugby Championship Final, but he still has some doubts.

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The Capetonians will welcome Irish side Munster for the big match this coming Saturday and once again the spotlight has shifted to the playing conditions.

The field at Cape Town Stadium was torn to shreds during the Stormers’ play-offs against the Bulls and Connacht in recent weeks.

In places, the field resembled a beach and where there is grass it is also threadbare and not very stable.

A Monster Jam truck rally that took place at the venue ahead of the play-offs also played a big role in the field’s current state.

The Stormers took some actions to try and preserve the field ahead of the Final by moving a couple of Currie Cup matches to Athlone Stadium.

The first of those fixtures was WP’s 22-14 win over the Pumas on Friday and after the match, Dobson was asked if the surface at Cape Town Stadium will show signs of recovery in time for the URC Final.

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“I doubt it,” was Dobson’s response.

“The weather looks reasonable. I doubt it will recover to pre-Monster Jam, but I am sure it is going to be better.

“That is our home now and it is miserable to move them [Currie Cup games], but I didn’t know this [Athlone Stadium] was going to be such a good venue and experience.”

The story continues below…

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While he is expecting some improvements, Dobson believes the surface will not be good enough for one of his team’s main weapons.

“It is going to be much better than what it was against the Bulls and Connacht.

“However, it is going to be frustrating come scrum time, because one of our opportunities against Munster is our scrum.

“You saw what Leinster did to them in the backend of that game [URC semifinal].

“It is tricky on that field, but we will find other ways to win it.”

The playing surface at Cape Town Stadium will be replaced by a hybrid pitch – 50 percent grass and 50 percent synthetic. The process will start in July and should be finished in October.

@rugby365com

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