United Rugby Championship

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Dave Cahill
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United Rugby Championship

Post by Dave Cahill »

The new name for the ProWhateveryourehavingyouself apparently. 4 geographical pools (Scots and italy, Ireland, Wales, SA) one table, 18 games, everyone plays everyone local home and away, then everyone else home or away, then quarters etc. Pool winners to HECC plus next 4 best teams on the ladder - all according to Fangio on the tweetertron

Last edited by Dave Cahill on June 15th, 2021, 12:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
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ronk
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Re: United Rugby Championship

Post by ronk »

Dave Cahill wrote: June 15th, 2021, 12:50 am . Pool winners to HECC plus next 4 best teams on the ladder - all according to Fangio on the tweetertron

Eh what? That could blow up badly.

I guess we were spoiled with having 4 provinces qualify a few times.

18 games instead of 21, although with an offsetting QF for 1/2 the teams, is a fair bit shorter. Especially with a shorter HC rumoured too.
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Re: United Rugby Championship

Post by heno »

It was stated that they wanted less games to remove games being played on 6 nations weekends. They want to get rid of the reputation of a competition of second string sides.

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cormac
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Re: United Rugby Championship

Post by cormac »

Copy and pasted from the new website.

http://unitedrugby.com/

Q: WHAT IS HAPPENING?
The Guinness PRO14 is changing into a 16-team league called the United Rugby Championship and will include South Africa’s former Super Rugby teams – Cell C Sharks, DHL Stormers, Emirates Lions and Vodacom Bulls. These teams will play in the league against the 12 existing teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.

Q: SO, IT’S BACK TO A LEAGUE FORMAT?
Yes, all 16 teams will be ranked from 1 to 16 in a single-standing league table to decide who reaches the Quarter-finals. Additionally, regional pools will exist to ensure home & away derby fixtures are played.

Teams will be seeded from 1 to 8 and will receive home advantage according to their seeding. A full round of Quarter-finals and Semi-finals will take place to produce two teams who will qualify for the Grand Final.

Q: HOW WILL THE FIXTURES WORK AND HOW MANY GAMES WILL MY TEAM PLAY?
Every team will play 18 games in the regular season comprising of:

6 Home AND away fixtures against their regional pool opponents
12 Home OR away fixtures against the other 12 teams in the league
This means derby matches are unaffected, and every team plays each other at least once each season.

Q: WHY ARE YOU CHANGING THE NAME OF THE TOURNAMENT?
The United Rugby Championship represents elite club rugby across two hemispheres. Each team and territory offer something unique to the game; and although we are unified by our love of the sport, the rivalries at the heart of the game remain the reason we watch it.

With such a complete change in format and the addition of the big-name South African sides, it is the right time to change the name of the tournament that is more fitting and will have much greater longevity. It’s fair to say using numbers in the name hasn’t quite worked out so well.

Q: WHY ‘UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP’?
URC symbolises a new era for club rugby, while not forgetting our roots as the Celtic League. The URC brings together teams, players and fans from iconic locations across the North & South. Over 140 names were tested – including PRO16 and PRO Rugby Championship – but ultimately United Rugby Championship rose to the top based upon feedback from stakeholders across a number of internal and external surveys which have shaped the brand values and expectations from teams, fans, media and broadcasters.

At its core, the URC seeks to be Bigger, Bolder and Stronger that the previous incarnations of the league with a more familiar format, no crossovers with international weekends and more teams capable of winning the title.

Q: WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF FEWER REGULAR SEASON GAMES AND NO CROSSOVER WITH INTERNATIONAL WEEKENDS?
A: Fans, broadcasters and media will always welcome new faces and breakthrough Next-Gen talents, but the message has been consistent that they want to see the top internationals play more often in the league. This will always have a natural challenge given that 16 teams are feeding into five national squads, so by removing the crossover with international weekends everyone can expect to see the top talent playing more often than in the past.

With expectations that the competitiveness of the league will be increased by the addition of the South African teams, it will ensure that every game counts in the race to reach the knock-out stages.

The regular season will consist of 18 rounds followed by three rounds of knock-outs including the Grand Final to provide an overall total of 21 game weekends per season. This is down from a total of 24 when the tournament was previously a 12-team league.

Q: REGIONAL POOLS WERE MENTIONED EARLIER ON, HOW WILL THEY WORK?
A: The regional pools are a mechanism to ensure all home and away derby games are played while also recognising a champion for that region each season. The Irish, South African and Welsh teams all have their own natural pools of four while the Scottish and Italian teams will enter into their own pool of four because each there are only two participants from each nation involved.

This also means that Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors, Benetton and Zebre will only play two derby games per season rather than three in the PRO14 format. The fixtures from the regional pools will account for six games with the remaining 12 games played against all other teams in the league. Points from all 18 games will be used in the single-standing league table and for the regional pools.

Q: HOW WILL CHAMPIONS CUP QUALIFICATION WORK?
A: A total of eight teams from the United Rugby Championship will qualify for the Heineken Champions Cup. The winner of each pool will qualify, followed by the next highest ranked teams in the main league table.

From the 2022/23, South African teams will be able to enter the Champions Cup if they have finished in the qualification places in the URC standings in 2021/22. Regional pool mechanic will ensure at least one team will qualify.

All points won during the URC season will contribute to rankings in the regional pools and the winner of each pool will earn a place in the Champions Cup for the following season. This addition to the format is expected to add even greater intensity to these age-old rivalries.

The remaining four places will then be awarded to the four highest-ranked teams in the single-standing league table who did not win their regional pool. Final seeding for the Champions Cup will be based upon the league positions of all eight teams.

Q: HOW ARE HOME OR AWAY FIXTURES DECIDED?
A: The initial balance fixtures will be predicated on a number of factors including: stadium availability; club preference; player welfare, broadcast rights and the accommodation of mini‐tours involving fixtures with South African clubs. Each year the home or away fixture will alternate much like it does in the Guinness Six Nations, so if Ospreys played away to the DHL Stormers in Cape during the 2021/22 season, then they would host the Stormers in Swansea the following year and the fixture would continue to alternate on that basis.

Q: HOW WILL TEAMS COPE WITH TRAVELLING TO AND FROM SOUTH AFRICA?
A: Visiting teams will require a 7-day turnaround leading into these fixtures. This will include 5 ‘clean days’ that do not involve any travel. Flights between Europe and South Africa are overnight which will allow players to rest during their travel while training facilities and accommodation venues have already been road-tested from previous Guinness PRO14 and Super Rugby fixtures.

Q: HOW MANY CROSS-HEMISPHERE AWAY GAMES WILL TEAMS PLAY?
A: Teams from the ‘North’ (UK, Ireland, Italy) will play two (2) away games in South Africa each season and the aim is for these games to be played back-to-back. Teams from South Africa will play six (6) away games in the North and most likely require three-game tours.

Q: WHAT COVID SAFETY PROCEDURES HAVE BEEN INTRODUCED FOR CROSS-HEMISPHERE TRAVEL?
A: It is widely expected that the majority of player groups, coaching teams and support staff will have been vaccinated ahead of the 2021/22 season. However, league organisers will continue to follow the guidance of the Government and local Health Authorities, as well as the Medical Advisory Group, which consists of the lead medical chiefs from each of the five unions represented in the URC.

This group has provided robust direction throughout the pandemic and has consistently updated practices and policies as the science surrounding Covid-19 has advanced. The appropriate testing and Covid safety protocols will continue to exist, while all travelling teams will be based in facilities which meet Covid safety requirements.

Q: HOW WILL THE KNOCK-OUT STAGES WORK?
A: After 18 rounds, the top eight teams will be seeded 1 to 8 with the four highest-ranked teams having home advantage for the Quarter-finals. That seeding will also determine who plays at home in the Semi-finals.

How seeding will work for Quarter-final fixtures: 1st v 8th , 2nd v 7th, 3rd v 6th, 4th v 5th

Each season the URC Grand Final will be held at a destination venue similar to the Guinness PRO12 and PRO14 deciders held between 2015 and 2019.

Q: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THE NEW FORMAT?
A: Less games to conflict with international weekends, one league table in place and a full Quarter-final round of four games which will increase knock-out games from five to seven.

Q: WHY ARE THE TOYOTA CHEETAHS AND THE SOUTHERN KINGS NO LONGER INVOLVED IN THIS LEAGUE?
A: The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic had three major effects on the make-up of the Guinness PRO14. Firstly, cross-hemisphere fixtures were not possible in 2020 and for much of 2021 and, in addition, the Southern Kings were dissolved in September 2020. Finally, the break-up of the Super Rugby tournament as it created an opportunity for the South African Rugby Union’s executive committee to vote for their top four ‘franchises’ to join in place of the Cheetahs and Kings.

Q: WHEN WILL THE SEASON START & FINISH?
A: The first round of the URC take place on the final weekend of September, and the URC Grand Final weekend will take place in mid-June 2022.

Q: HOW LONG WILL THE URC REMAIN IN THIS EXACT FORMAT?
A: The format of the URC will remain in this format for at least the next five years. The intention is for the league not to change format again.
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LeRouxIsPHat
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Re: United Rugby Championship

Post by LeRouxIsPHat »

From a Leinster POV I’m concerned that fewer games will mean we’re forced to have a smaller squad and that there’ll be even more movement to the other provinces. It’ll be slightly harder to develop young players for us too.

If you thought JVG was bad for picking young players, imagine what he’ll be like next season when he has less excuses to pick them.

I hope we find some way of mitigating that but the format seems okay overall.
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Re: United Rugby Championship

Post by cormac »

LeRouxIsPHat wrote: June 15th, 2021, 10:29 am From a Leinster POV I’m concerned that fewer games will mean we’re forced to have a smaller squad and that there’ll be even more movement to the other provinces. It’ll be slightly harder to develop young players for us too.

If you thought JVG was bad for picking young players, imagine what he’ll be like next season when he has less excuses to pick them.

I hope we find some way of mitigating that but the format seems okay overall.
Some stability within the league may give an opportunity to establish a less ad-hoc fixture schedule for Leinster A.
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Re: United Rugby Championship

Post by LeRouxIsPHat »

Yeah that was my first thought alright. I’d love if we played touring sides too but obviously that would detract from the international games and there’d be no appetite for that. That said, maybe the lack of money would mean it could be possible.

Despite those concerns I do think it’s great that they haven’t just tried to play as many games as possible.
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Re: United Rugby Championship

Post by D4surfer »

I like the format and it will undoubtedly be more competitive. Heineken Cup qualification is certainly no longer a "given".

The format is slightly easier for the Scots who get to play each of the Italians twice.
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Re: United Rugby Championship

Post by D4surfer »

Excuse the plagiarism but I've copied this from elsewhere:

Fixture weekends according to Murray Kinsella.
R1 24/25/26 Sep
R2 1/2/3 Oct
R3 8/9/10 Oct
R4 15/16/17 Oct
R5 22/23/24 Oct
R6 29/30/31 Oct
R7 3/4/5 Dec
R8 24/25/26 Dec
R9 13 Dec/1/2 Jan
R10 7/8/9 Jan
R11 28/29/30 Jan
R12 18/19/20 Mar
R13 4/5/6 Mar
R14 25/24/27 Mar
R15 1/2/3 Apr
R16 22/23/24 Apr
R17 29/30/31 Apr
R18 20/21/22 May
QF 3/4/5 Jun
SF 10/11/12 Jun
Final 23/24/25 Jun
wixfjord
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Re: United Rugby Championship

Post by wixfjord »

Less games, with more riding on each game and the top players all playing, along with four new high quality teams full of stars.

Really like the sound of this!
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Re: United Rugby Championship

Post by Twist »

D4surfer wrote: June 15th, 2021, 11:28 am I like the format and it will undoubtedly be more competitive. Heineken Cup qualification is certainly no longer a "given".

The format is slightly easier for the Scots who get to play each of the Italians twice.
Yeah that's definitely an unfairness. A country that has it's act together will be making it harder for it's own teams to progress
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Re: United Rugby Championship

Post by LeinsterLeader »

Just to clarify on this, would I be right in assuming a season ticket would now cover just 11 games (9 leagues and 2 HEC)?
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Re: United Rugby Championship

Post by Dave Cahill »

wixfjord wrote: June 15th, 2021, 11:55 am Less games, with more riding on each game and the top players all playing, along with four new high quality teams full of stars.

Really like the sound of this!
Me too, with the usual proviso of waiting until the telly deals are fully announced - if you can't watch every game live then it's a backward step.
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Re: United Rugby Championship

Post by wixfjord »

Yep that's the major problem with offering it FTA.

There's no way RTE will show all four provinces every weekend, and absolutely no way they'll show other games.
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Re: United Rugby Championship

Post by JohnB »

Will it theoretically be possible for a Regional Pool winner to qualify for the Champions Cup while not being among the top 8 finishers in the League?
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Re: United Rugby Championship

Post by The Doc »

JohnB wrote: June 15th, 2021, 1:34 pm Will it theoretically be possible for a Regional Pool winner to qualify for the Champions Cup while not being among the top 8 finishers in the League?
Probably yes. You could win 4 interpros and lose every other game - think that would top the regional pool.

It sort of gets back to the original point of the old European Cup of being between representatives from the constituent countries rather than leagues - which I'm fine with.
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Re: United Rugby Championship

Post by LeRouxIsPHat »

Looking at the names of the SA teams, I wonder how long it’ll be before we’re Laya Healthcare Leinster or something.
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Re: United Rugby Championship

Post by Avenger »

LeRouxIsPHat wrote: June 15th, 2021, 1:40 pm Looking at the names of the SA teams, I wonder how long it’ll be before we’re Laya Healthcare Leinster or something.
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cormac
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Re: United Rugby Championship

Post by cormac »

The Doc wrote: June 15th, 2021, 1:38 pm
JohnB wrote: June 15th, 2021, 1:34 pm Will it theoretically be possible for a Regional Pool winner to qualify for the Champions Cup while not being among the top 8 finishers in the League?
Probably yes. You could win 4 interpros and lose every other game - think that would top the regional pool.

It sort of gets back to the original point of the old European Cup of being between representatives from the constituent countries rather than leagues - which I'm fine with.
Qualification for the Heineken Cup is based on all results not just against the other teams in your regional pool.

Q: REGIONAL POOLS WERE MENTIONED EARLIER ON, HOW WILL THEY WORK?
A: The regional pools are a mechanism to ensure all home and away derby games are played while also recognising a champion for that region each season. The Irish, South African and Welsh teams all have their own natural pools of four while the Scottish and Italian teams will enter into their own pool of four because each there are only two participants from each nation involved.

This also means that Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors, Benetton and Zebre will only play two derby games per season rather than three in the PRO14 format. The fixtures from the regional pools will account for six games with the remaining 12 games played against all other teams in the league. Points from all 18 games will be used in the single-standing league table and for the regional pools.

There does appear a slight chance that you could win the league and not qualify for Europe though, which would be a tad farcical.
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Re: United Rugby Championship

Post by Laighin Break »

Not sure I'll be a fan of the late Sep - mid June schedule. Hopefully that's just for this coming season.
The early Sep - late May schedule fits perfectly with the GAA championships.
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