Bulls will do it for the people of Pretoria in URC final, says Marco van Staden

Bulls flank Marco van Staden (centre) will look to get stuck in at the breakdowns against Glasgow. Photo: BackpagePix

Bulls flank Marco van Staden (centre) will look to get stuck in at the breakdowns against Glasgow. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 21, 2024


Marco van Staden is a man of few words, but big actions.

He lets his play do the talking on the field, and it will be no different for the Bulls in tomorrow’s United Rugby Championship final against the Glasgow Warriors at Loftus Versfeld (6pm start).

Probed on a number of issues, especially his main area of concern – the breakdown – Van Staden played with a straight bat yesterday, careful to not give the Scottish club any additional ammunition before the title decider.

But what was clear from the Springbok World Cup winner was the Bulls’ purpose tomorrow.

“It’s a big occasion, and we suspect it’s going to be a full Loftus. We must stay calm and do the things that we do well. It’s about not making the occasion too big, and we have to keep doing what we’ve been doing – there is a reason why we are in this privileged position,” the 28-year-old said.

“It means a lot to the guys playing, guys not playing, and those who have prepared us every single week to make sure we are ready – the coaches, the staff, people working at the stadium.

“And for the people of Pretoria: we make a difference every weekend when we win, so to host a final in Pretoria is massive for them, and gives a good vibe in our city.

“It’s a massive occasion, but it’s a privilege to have that pressure. It’s a nice pressure, hosting a final at your home ground. It’s more than just lifting a trophy – the purpose of what we are playing for. It doesn’t make us calm, but helps us focus on the game.”

— BKT United Rugby Championship (URC) (@URCOfficial) June 20, 2024

But to lift that elusive URC trophy – having lost in the 2022 final to the Stormers and then in last year’s quarter-finals to the Capetonians as well – will take some real hard grind from Van Staden and the rest of the Bulls pack.

As much as Glasgow are renowned for their attack under former Springbok back Franco Smith, their forwards are able to roll up their sleeves and do the necessary hard yards for the strike-runners out wide to pounce.

Hooker Johnny Matthews is the URC’s top try-scorer this season with 14 touchdowns, Richie Gray is strong in the lineouts and tight-loose, while the likes of loose forwards Matt Fagerson, Rory Darge and Jack Dempsey will keep Van Staden, Elrigh Louw and Cameron Hanekom busy around the field.

But Van Staden has made a number of crucial turnovers at the breakdowns, and has grown his ball-carrying skills as well.

He will be wary, though, of not giving away easy penalties in a final, and lead the way for the Bulls to replicate their resolute defensive display in the 25-20 semi-final win over Leinster last week.

“We know that they’re a very good attacking team, so we can’t take anything for granted and have prepped well for anything they will bring,” Van Staden said.

“The main focus is on our things, things we can control. We must just play for the full 80 minutes, because if you give Glasgow soft moments, they will definitely take it and you will pay the price.

“That desperation comes from our culture among the players – not only the players, but our whole union. We worked hard, and that has been our philosophy the entire season.

“That desperation comes from the opportunity that we have now received, and it’s a privilege. I believe that everyone’s heads will be right for this game.”