PRO14 to become United Rugby Championship

WHAT IS THE UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP?

The new name for the old Pro 14/Pro 16/Pro 12 – all four Irish provinces, and Welsh regions, the two Scottish and Italian pro sides plus the four South African sides moving over from Super Rugby.

WHAT’S THE FORMAT?

Very reminiscent of North American sports leagues – four geographic conferences (Irish, Welsh, South African and Scottish/Italian). We’ll each play the teams in our conference both home and away and then play the remaining twelve teams once – six at home and six away.

WHAT ABOUT EUROPE?

The four conference winners (including the South African winner) will automatically qualify for the Champions Cup and then the other four places will be given to the next four highest points scorers from any conference. No word yet on the Challenge Cup places but we can probably assume a similar idea based on points totals.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR US?

Probably a net gain for the Scottish sides – we’re keeping two 1872 derbies every season, plus another four games for both Glasgow and Edinburgh against the Italian teams means we have more games against weaker opposition than say, Ulster, who face Munster and Leinster twice each. Conference format means we’ve got never less than a 50% chance of one of the two pro sides in the Champions Cup every season and the reduced fixtures mean that there’s no clash with the Six Nations or Autumn Internationals, so our full-strength squads should be available for every game.

25 comments on “PRO14 to become United Rugby Championship

  1. FF on

    Re: United Rugby Championship

    Format is about as good as it can be given all the unnegotiables. I have no idea how good the SA provinces are but if they all qualify for the HC and Ireland, Wales and Scotland just get one representative it’s going to have been a big risk that has gone badly. The URC really needs to achieve credibility in its own right super-quickly – already Irish rugby fans are complaining about the format that will inevitably diminish their European involvement.

  2. Alanyst on

    The structure is logical, but I reckon this is bad for us in the long run…being in the dirt tracker conference reduces our exposure to the top teams, reduces the need to perform, and will reduce fan interest and ultimately lead to decline.

    Just look at what the Aus/NZ super split did…the kiwis got sharper, the Aussies lost their edge.

    More Champions Cup exposure might offset this, but only if our teams are not token participants

    • FF on

      Our teams will still play 12 conference games outside our group and I think the standard will rise both because of the addition of the SA teams and the likely increase in appearances from test players in the regular season.

      My main fear is that apparently after 2 years all the unions have to unanimously agree to keep the HC qualification that guarantees one qualified from each group. I can see us, Wales and Italy agreeing but not Ireland as it is Connacht who have been mainly screwed by this, Ulster too really.

      If they don’t agree qualification will revert to Top 8, which means Scotland could regularly have no representation in the HC if SA sides are as strong as expected.

      • Sam Laycock on

        Nah for me the most likely outcome is that the European spots end up as
        3 x SA,
        3 x Ireland,
        2 x Scotland,
        1 x Wales,
        0 x Italy.
        How long will the Welsh and Italian be prepared to stomach that? Particularly the Welsh seeing both Scottish teams regularly qualify and only one Welsh. I say enjoy it while it lasts.
        Mind you the Cardiff Blues love the challenge cup. 😂.

      • Sam Laycock on

        Sorry that doesn’t quite work, I’ll either be 2 Irish & 3SA or vice versa. But the point is about the Welsh.

      • Yohan van der Fear on

        FF: I agree , ‘the standard will rise’. I disagree with everything else , there is nothing to “fear” about that IMO.It is all positive.

  3. FF on

    Big question for me is whether any Edinburgh and Glasgow games will be back on FTA. Irish broadcasters have secured 26 FTA games including some knock out matches. BBC have apparently secured some rights but is that just BBCNI for Ulster matches or will it include our games too?

    I think that’s really important to making the new competitor more accessible to a broader group of fans.

  4. iejgw on

    Agree with FF. For years I have been able to watch the Irish games (TG4, in Irish), the Welsh games (S4C, in Welsh) and even regular Premier games (Channel 4, in English), but years since the Scottish ones (BBC Alba, in Gaelic). What is the problem? Is it BBC Scotland’s lack of interest, SRFU’s lack of push? Can’t be they’re asking too much money as both S4C and TG4 can afford it.

  5. Alanyst on

    Why are we all assuming the SA sides are good? Last SA winner of super rugby was 2010…the Lions did have a recent run of runners up spots.

    I put the old super rugby 1 peg below Heineken Cup, 1 peg above Top14.

    SA as a test team relies mainly on European based players, although this might change.

    I admit I haven’t watched them play outside the Cheetahs and Kings, who were OK and dismal respectively.

    They’ve hardly played outside a covid affected domestic comp.

    My feeling is that overall the SA teams will be comparable to the Welsh teams…at least initially.

    • Grumpy on

      The Cheetahs and Kings are nothing like the 4 that are joining. We could do with more games on firm pitches and sun on our backs. It will be worth every penny.

      • Alanyst on

        I do hope the SA summer conditions suit our teams more than some of the others.

        Glasgow…probably, Edinburgh maybe?

  6. Rab on

    I’ve been wondering this too, never saw anything from them in the old SR that makes me think they’ll challenge Leinster.
    I haven’t watched much of them in the rainbow cup though so maybe I’m missing something?
    I don’t think they’ll be bad but I’d be very surprised if they dominate the tournament alongside the Irish

    • Glarugby on

      Will be interesting to see. I have watched most of the South African games and been impressed with the quality and physicality (in carrying and tackling). They can also throw the ball about when they choose too. A few players look real talents, but aren’t close to being springboks, so looks like a bit of depth.

      Hard to judge overall quality as they are playing amongst themselves, but if they can bring their power to the new league they will be tough to beat

      • Rab on

        They do churn out a ridiculous number of quality players to be fair.
        Very interested to see how our team’s get on against them, I am a little worried how Glasgow’s pack will fair when we end up with a few key injuries.

      • Rab on

        Yes, I just don’t think they’ll come in and be at leinster/munster level instantly like a lot of people seem to have decided.
        Definitely going to be a lot of teams fighting for the play offs but with eight spots and two extra games against the Italians I’d hope at least one of Glasgow and Edinburgh will make the cut

      • FF on

        Well I think tonight’s result has decided this argument – SA teams probably not going to be all that great, Benetton likely to be real threat to HC place for Glasgow and Edinburgh.

        Also think Italy could benefit from knock on confidence of this result. Paolo Garbisi turning into a serious player.

      • warmer on

        @FF: Do you now ? I dont think it settles anything, not that it matters , as it is happening , like it or not. They had a bad day at the office. looked clueless, like a side that had not prepared to play a strong team, at home ,with a few international players in it’s ranks. They looked just like a team that left its international players with the springbok and split the remainder of its squad to meet it’s Currie Cup commitments in SA this weekend. That is how they looked to me.

        I can understand you missing that, because it suits and that we have never experienced Glasgow or Edinburgh losing to much poorer quality oppositon in the past, have we?

        I think this is a great addition and if anyone is in town with some spare time , get to the games. It will be worth every penny and every mile.

        PS: Why should Benetton not be credible opposition in our Conference , group r whatever. We have moaned about Italian sides often enough, bring it on.

      • Alanyst on

        If the end result of all this is a strong Bennetton and cagey even vulnerable SA teams, should be a great season!

    • Alanyst on

      Just a thought, as I watch the Super Rugby TT final on the same day as the English Premiership final, and with South African club rugby now aligned with Europe, that the “global calendar” is essentially here at Pro level.

      The only remainders of a traditional Southern Hemisphere season are the respective lower tier domestic comps and the Rugby Championship.

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