Super Rugby this weekend was due to dish up another South African derby with the Stormers set to host the Sharks at Newlands on Saturday.
It is a fixture that, since the very beginning of the tournament back in 1996, has always commanded interest with the support bases from the two coastal regions are as passionate and proud as any in world rugby.
Neither side has ever tasted Super Rugby glory. The Sharks are four-time runners-ups – 1996, 2001, 2007 and 2012 – while the Stormers have played in just one final, which they lost to the Bulls in 2010.
That suggests that the Sharks have had the upper hand over the Stormers in Super Rugby, and while that is the case, a closer look at the numbers reveals that there has been very little between the sides over the years.
Since 1996, the Sharks have played the Stormers a total of 32 times in Super Rugby with the Sharks winning 18 (56%) and the Stormers winning 14 (44%).
An even more revealing statistic is that, across those 32 matches, the Sharks have scored a total of 649 points to 621 from the Stormers, making for an average score of 20.28 to 19.41 per game in favour of the Durbanites.
Things have been that closely contested between these two franchises since the very beginning, and that was the case once more when the Sharks emerged 24-14 winners in Durban earlier this year after the Stormers had led 14-13 heading into the final 10 minutes.
Arguably the most important fixture between the sides came in 2012 when, for the first and only time, they met in a Super Rugby playoff match.
The Stormers, under Allister Coetzee, had finished top of the South African Conference and combined log and had home ground advantage all the way through to the final.
The Sharks, meanwhile, had just snuck into the playoffs and had to beat the Reds in Brisbane to set up a semi-final against the Stormers at Newlands.
It was a day to forget for the Capetonians as coach John Plumtree’s men scored tries from Louis Ludik and JP Pietersen while there were also 16 points off the boot of Frederic Michalak on their way to a famous 26-19 win.
The Sharks were then hammered 37-6 by the Chiefs in Hamilton in the following weekend’s final.
This Saturday’s match was also likely to be the last time the sides would meet at Newlands, with the stadium set to be demolished next year.
At this stage, there is still no indication when or if Super Rugby 2020 will resume as the fight against the global coronavirus pandemic continues.
Sharks v Stormers in Super Rugby:
1996: Sharks 28-22 Stormers
1998: Sharks 32-17 Stormers
1999: Stormers 35-19 Sharks
2000: Sharks 28-32 Stormers
2001: Stormers 19-23 Sharks
2002: Sharks 18-25 Stormers
2003: Stormers 40-18 Sharks
2004: Sharks 24-31 Stormers
2005: Stormers 26-12 Sharks
2006: Sharks 24-17 Stormers
2007: Stormers 10-36 Sharks
2008: Sharks 12-10 Stormers
2009: Stormers 15-20 Sharks
2010: Sharks 20-14 Stormers
2011: Sharks 6-16 Stormers, Stormers 32-12 Sharks
2012: Stormers 15-12 Sharks, Sharks 25-20 Stormers, Stormers 19-26 Sharks
2013: Sharks 12-6 Stormers, Stormers 22-15 Sharks
2014: Sharks 19-21 Stormers, Stormers 10-34 Sharks
2015: Stormers 29-13 Sharks, Sharks 34-12 Stormers
2016: Stormers 13-18 Sharks
2017: Sharks 22-10 Stormers
2018: Sharks 24-17 Stormers, Stormers 27-16 Sharks
2019: Sharks 11-16 Stormers, Stormers 9-12 Sharks
2020: Sharks 24-14 Stormers
– Compiled by Lloyd Burnard