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The United Rugby Championship is born - starting Sept 2021

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Post by Pot Hale Tue 15 Jun 2021, 12:19 pm

From PRO Rugby:


The ‘United Rugby Championship will kick off in September 2021 as the top clubs from South Africa (Cell C Sharks, DHL Stormers, Emirates Lions and Vodacom Bulls) combine with the Guinness PRO14 to create a world-class 16-team league.

The United Rugby Championship will be bigger, bolder and stronger than its predecessors. Teams from five of rugby’s elite nations – Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Wales and South Africa will transform the competition into a league of super clubs, which will embrace difference and champion its athletes on their journey with the URC proudly representing all of those involved with the game.

Off the field the United Rugby Championship will strive to provide a platform for our players to tell their stories so that their achievements in sport and society can inspire the next-generation of rugby talent and the sport’s supporters to prove that rugby is a game for all.

This game-changing agreement between SA Rugby and PRO14 Rugby will strengthen their existing partnership and will drive greater growth of the game for the benefit of all 16 teams in the league.

Martin Anayi, CEO of United Rugby Championship, said: “Fans have always asked more of our league and now we are taking it to new heights. The United Rugby Championship will see World Cup winners, icons of the Guinness Six Nations, the Rugby Championship and stars of the British & Irish Lions tour turning up the intensity in an exciting new league format. Since the origins of the Celtic League in 2001, the vision has been to innovate and evolve in order to create a compelling competition which would challenge our players and teams to be at their very best every single week. Their potential has never been in doubt and now we can provide them with the arena to be the very best.

“Forming the United Rugby Championship will begin to reshape the world of club rugby. We are creating a league that embraces and celebrates difference and where the only way to succeed will be to match the skill and intensity of the international game.

“The arrival of South Africa’s elite teams and the removal of fixtures from international match weekends will make our league stronger across the board. We will see heroes taking on heroes every week in iconic locations to create an appeal that will be unmatched in in the world of club rugby.

“We now have a clear purpose and identity that everyone associated with our league can stand behind. We have listened and we have answered the challenge set by our clubs to take this competition to the next level both on and off the field. North and south will now collide on a regular basis and we cannot wait to see who will rise up as the first champions of the United Rugby Championship.”

Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby, said: “South African rugby has for many years imagined a future aligned with northern-hemisphere rugby and this announcement marks the arrival of that vision.

“Our teams will be pitting themselves against the leading clubs from four nations, steeped in rugby tradition and folklore. They’ll do it without having to cross time zones or acclimatise while 100 per cent of matches will kick off in South African prime time.

“This is a watershed moment in South African rugby history, opening new doors and heralding a new and exciting era for our sport.”

CROSSING NEW HORIZONS IN RUGBY

This agreement will create a pathway for SA Rugby to become a full shareholder in Pro Rugby Championship (PRC DAC) alongside the Celtic and Italian unions. In a sporting landscape looking towards the post-pandemic future this unification of north and south provides everyone involved in the United Rugby Championship with optimism for prosperous days ahead.

Subject to contract, all teams in the United Rugby Championship will be eligible to qualify for EPCR competitions in time for the 2022/23 season.

In comparison to the Guinness PRO14 structure, the 18-round regular season in the United Rugby Championship will see the return of a single-standing table that will prevent clashes with international weekends and leave little margin for error for those chasing the title. Every game will count in the league which will be further strengthened by an expanded knock-out series that aims to deliver more jeopardy with a full schedule of quarter-finals and semi-finals capped off by a Grand Final played in a destination venue.

The United Rugby Championship will set the stage where the diversity of playing styles, languages and fan cultures will clash across iconic locations in rugby heartlands week after week. The new league will also allow South Africa’s former Super Rugby sides to operate in a common time zone which will help open up greater audiences across the league and increase commercial appeal.

UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP LEAGUE FORMAT

The URC will use one league table to rank the teams who will reach the knock-out stages and compete to reach the title and become the champions.

Fixtures: The regular season of the United Rugby Championship will take place across 18 rounds with each team’s fixtures comprising of six (6) Home AND away fixtures against their regional pool opponents and12 Home OR away fixtures against the remaining teams in the league.

Regional pools

Irish Pool: Connacht, Leinster, Munster, Ulster

Welsh Pool: Dragons, Cardiff Rugby, Ospreys, Scarlets

South African Pool: Cell C Sharks, DHL Stormers, Emirates Lions and Vodacom Bulls

Italian & Scottish Pool: Benetton Rugby, Edinburgh, Glasgow Warriors, Zebre Rugby Club

Final Series/Play-Offs: One league table will be used to rank teams and after 18 rounds the top eight sides will qualify for the Play-Offs. 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.

UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP – CHAMPIONS CUP AND CHALLENGE CUP PARTICIPATION

A total of eight teams from the United Rugby Championship will qualify each season for the following season’s Heineken Champions Cup. The balance of teams will participate in the Challenge Cup.

Subject to the finalisation of contract terms with EPCR, South African teams will be eligible to qualify for the Heineken Champions Cup from the 2022/23 season if they have finished in the United Rugby Championship qualification places from the prior season.

All points won during the URC season will contribute to rankings in the regional pools and the highest-ranking team in each of the four pools 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 local rivalries.

The remaining four places in the Champions Cup will be awarded to the four highest-ranked teams from the single-standing league table who have not already qualified through the four regional pools.
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Post by LordDowlais Tue 15 Jun 2021, 12:31 pm

So I take it, that the top teams from each group will qualify for Europe's main competition ? So that will guarantee one team from each group qualifying ?

OK, so the third side will probably come from the Italian and Scottish pool after they have all gotten bonus point wins against Zebre. So that leaves space for another three teams, with one team in each group definitely losing out.

Am I reading this right ?

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Post by Old Man Tue 15 Jun 2021, 12:35 pm

No, although you might be correct that one team could have an easier route to get extra points in a weaker pool, the other three can come from any pool, depending how they perform throughout the season.

Also remember that a team that might benefit from a weaker pool won’t necessarily have the same success against stronger pools.

They do get a leg up, which I agree is not ideal, but considering the incessant need for derbies this would be the answer to keep everyone sort of happy

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Post by LordDowlais Tue 15 Jun 2021, 12:38 pm

Old Man wrote:No, although you might be correct that one team could have an easier route to get extra points in a weaker pool, the other three can come from any pool, depending how they perform throughout the season.

Also remember that a team that might benefit from a weaker pool won’t necessarily have the same success against stronger pools.

They do get a leg up, which I agree is not ideal, but considering the incessant need for derbies this would be the answer to keep everyone sort of happy

I'm not complaining, I am just seeing if I have got it right.

How do we decide who qualifies from each pool, apart from the winners ? Wouldn't it just been easier to say the top two teams in each pool qualify ?

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Post by BamBam Tue 15 Jun 2021, 12:47 pm

There's a league table of all 16 teams made up of consolidated results

The URC will use one league table to rank the teams who will reach the knock-out stages and compete to reach the title and become the champions.

The pool winners get the first 4 places, then the 4 highest ranked teams in the 16 team table who haven't already qualified get the other 4 places

All points won during the URC season will contribute to rankings in the regional pools and the highest-ranking team in each of the four pools 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 local rivalries.

The remaining four places in the Champions Cup will be awarded to the four highest-ranked teams from the single-standing league table who have not already qualified through the four regional pools.

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Post by Old Man Tue 15 Jun 2021, 12:51 pm

LordDowlais wrote:
Old Man wrote:No, although you might be correct that one team could have an easier route to get extra points in a weaker pool, the other three can come from any pool, depending how they perform throughout the season.

Also remember that a team that might benefit from a weaker pool won’t necessarily have the same success against stronger pools.

They do get a leg up, which I agree is not ideal, but considering the incessant need for derbies this would be the answer to keep everyone sort of happy

I'm not complaining, I am just seeing if I have got it right.

How do we decide who qualifies from each pool, apart from the winners ? Wouldn't it just been easier to say the top two teams in each pool qualify ?

Why then have a league if every pool is guaranteed two play off spots?

Where is the merit in that?

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Post by Oakdene Tue 15 Jun 2021, 12:53 pm

If you win the competition, you're not guaranteed to qualify for the Champions Cup.

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Post by BamBam Tue 15 Jun 2021, 1:02 pm

Oakdene wrote:If you win the competition, you're not guaranteed to qualify for the Champions Cup.

If you win the competition, you must have been in the playoffs. If in the playoffs then you must have been in the top 8, so surely you qualify on that basis even if not a pool winner?

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Post by Oakdene Tue 15 Jun 2021, 1:16 pm

BamBam wrote:
Oakdene wrote:If you win the competition, you're not guaranteed to qualify for the Champions Cup.

If you win the competition, you must have been in the playoffs. If in the playoffs then you must have been in the top 8, so surely you qualify on that basis even if not a pool winner?

No, all it takes is one pool winner not to be in the top 8 in the league. From there a side finishing 8th, were they to win the whole thing they wouldn't make it due to finishing ahead of a pool winner.

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Post by BamBam Tue 15 Jun 2021, 1:21 pm

Oakdene wrote:
BamBam wrote:
Oakdene wrote:If you win the competition, you're not guaranteed to qualify for the Champions Cup.

If you win the competition, you must have been in the playoffs. If in the playoffs then you must have been in the top 8, so surely you qualify on that basis even if not a pool winner?

No, all it takes is one pool winner not to be in the top 8 in the league. From there a side finishing 8th, were they to win the whole thing they wouldn't make it due to finishing ahead of a pool winner.

Good point, well made.

Should probably include a clause where the winner automatically gets in

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Post by No 7&1/2 Tue 15 Jun 2021, 1:22 pm

Guaranteed qualification for a team of a certain nationality no matter what is step back from a European comp perspective. Not likely to be as noticeable as previous to the last upheaval but still would rather avoid it.

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Post by Pete330v2 Tue 15 Jun 2021, 1:24 pm

Not a fan of another contrived format with money being the motivating factor.

It is what it is though, no point complaining, I'll save that for the end of every season when we miss out because of being in a much tougher pool than others. At least it comes preloaded with excuses Smile

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Post by Brendan Tue 15 Jun 2021, 1:27 pm

My understanding is that the top 8 teams in the league make the quarters regardless of nations affiliation. 1 will play 8, 2 will play 7 egg.

The pools only come into it for the champions cup sports. I don't like that at all and think that it was put in there for the three unions who are most likely to miss out. This way the Welsh are assured one place and the Scots and Italians share a place. That says to me the SA teams are expected to be the level of Munster and Ulster if the other Unions want a granteed slot. I think how the number of Welsh participants in the Champions Cup dropped has been an eye opener on how nations can miss out.

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Post by Brendan Tue 15 Jun 2021, 1:43 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:Guaranteed qualification for a team of a certain nationality no matter what is step back from a European comp perspective. Not likely to be as noticeable as previous to the last upheaval but still would rather avoid it.

I think that there should be a preliminary round but not sure there is space say between the teams finishing 7-10 in each league.

The team that tops the local pool in not going to be a weak team. In the last 4 years Glasgow and Edinburgh have made the quarters so it's not like they weaken the competition. The best Welsh team usually does well enough.

Teams 1-12 in the URC will be as good or better than their equivalent in the Premership. After all Sale is more or less a Bulls built off SA force and Sarries are the only English team to have cause Munster and Leinster issues and the cap will weaken both.

When you consider the 4 worse teams (13-16) could be Connacht/Blues, Benetton, Dragons & Zebre you begin to see how strong the 8 entrants from the league will be regardless of how they get there.

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Post by Brendan Tue 15 Jun 2021, 1:53 pm

I hate the name. How can people be paid so much to deliver so little in Marketing

The Central Powers league would have been better.

The 5 Nations v the English & French and their feeder leagues.

Its over 100 years hopefully enough time has passed for it not to be offensive

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Post by Old Man Tue 15 Jun 2021, 1:56 pm

I think it will be ok, in my mind it is the best compromise.

Everyone gets something out of this.

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Post by neilthom7 Tue 15 Jun 2021, 3:36 pm

I agree with Old Man I think it is the best compromise, you are dealing with 5 different unions so the perfect league with all that input isn't going to happen. In this case I think we get a more competitive league and its the best compromise for everyone.

I'm sure the teams are just hopeful they can have fans back properly again after the last year plus of losing out on that money

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Post by thebandwagonsociety Tue 15 Jun 2021, 4:52 pm

Brendan wrote:I hate the name. How can people be paid so much to deliver so little in Marketing

The Central Powers league would have been better.

The 5 Nations v the English & French and their feeder leagues.

Its over 100 years hopefully enough time has passed for it not to be offensive

How about Ultimate Rugby Championship as the obviously just wanted to have URC be close to UFC?

They scrap the conference system to keep people happy, they give most factions a better chance of keeping a minimum of 1 euro slot to keep people happy, they reduce the number of games for player welfare to keep people happy, they aim to have euro trips to SA be to cover 2 games per trip, and SA trips to euro to cover 3 games per trip, to keep people happy on travel costs and carbon footprint, they lock in the format for 5 seasons to keep people happy, they bring SA into the euro-comps (presuming both champion and challenge?) to keep people happy. They use the word 'United' in the title of the new format as it's a least offensive/trying to be all together and keep people happy, and the result is.......

I'm looking forward to this. I'll take a crack at a 3rd and 4th saffer side in exchange to only having to playing the dragons and zebre once. If a team is only good enough to get in the last 8 by getting to play zebre twice, then sorry you'll have a hard time beating teams in the last 8. And if you beat the rest of the teams that make it into the playoffs, then it doesn't matter that you played zebre one more time than the others did.

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Post by doctor_grey Tue 15 Jun 2021, 5:36 pm

Old Man wrote:No, although you might be correct that one team could have an easier route to get extra points in a weaker pool, the other three can come from any pool, depending how they perform throughout the season.

Also remember that a team that might benefit from a weaker pool won’t necessarily have the same success against stronger pools.

They do get a leg up, which I agree is not ideal, but considering the incessant need for derbies this would be the answer to keep everyone sort of happy
This is very similar to how the NFL is set up. In the big picture no one really complains, at least not very much. And the NFL is rather successful commercially.

I think this is going to be terrific.

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Post by Hazel Sapling Tue 15 Jun 2021, 7:23 pm

Reduced number of games, none over international weekends, derbies maintained and competitive balance is largely kept. Think the wishlist has been hit, though Cheetahs in particular can feel hard done by.

Now if they can sort out broadcasting (Premier have been poor in the UK) and folk start beating Leinster's second team, it might be able to kick on.

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Post by Pot Hale Tue 15 Jun 2021, 8:33 pm

Have to say that the Irish have revamped their Championship extremely well and given opportunities to some of the weaker countries to qualify.  

And looks like an even bigger TV deal is on the cards with more matches on FTA.  

Well done IRFU.

Ps this is an attempt at humour.
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Post by Brendan Tue 15 Jun 2021, 9:07 pm

Pot Hale wrote:Have to say that the Irish have revamped their Championship extremely well and given opportunities to some of the weaker countries to qualify.  

And looks like an even bigger TV deal is on the cards with more matches on FTA.  

Well done IRFU.

Ps this is an attempt at humour.

I must never admit it or we will end up like Juve (soccer) and Sarries and have to be relegated for cheating.

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Post by Old Man Tue 15 Jun 2021, 9:22 pm

Pot Hale wrote:Have to say that the Irish have revamped their Championship extremely well and given opportunities to some of the weaker countries to qualify.  

And looks like an even bigger TV deal is on the cards with more matches on FTA.  

Well done IRFU.

Ps this is an attempt at humour.

Yup, what a way to take control Wink

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Post by The Oracle Tue 15 Jun 2021, 9:52 pm

Well, sorry to disappoint but I’m looking forward to this. Sounds good OK
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Post by RiscaGame Tue 15 Jun 2021, 10:51 pm

I am looking forward to it. Just interested to see the season ticket price, with less games attached to it. Also, am keen to see how the tv coverage is decided and how quick they get the fixtures out. The fact teams in theory get their internationals is great and in some ways lessens the problem of less games on a ST, as you’re seeing your better players more often (hopefully).

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Post by RDW Wed 16 Jun 2021, 5:48 am

I think it is probably the best format we could have hoped for.

On the Saffer teams getting into Europe, do the English and French Unions need to agree to this?

I'm pleased that at least one team from each conference gets into Europe, and I don't think that wlll weaken the tournament. At least one Saffer team means at least one Pro 14 team loses out, butt here was no way the Saffer teams were going to agree long term without the Champions Cup carrot as well.

There's no doubting that the Scottish teams have an advantage having the worst team in the league twice each season, but also worth remembering that both have lost to Zebre in the past - generally when we've had to send weakened teams during international windows.

You do feel for the likes of Connacht however - they have a bit of a mountain to climb to get into Champions Cup now.

Finally, how is this all going to work for the South African players given the national team is still aligned with the southern hemisphere calendar...? TRC this year extends into October! Will the Saffer teams start late then play their derbies during the 6N to catch up? When will the South African teams have their pre-season given they currently have it in the UK winter - a team when we play a lot of rugby?

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Post by George Carlin Wed 16 Jun 2021, 7:23 am

Completely agree with Brendan that this is arguably/potentially the top club league in the world now, so perhaps it shouldn't have been given to an O level art student and English language student to come up with the branding.
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Post by Pot Hale Wed 16 Jun 2021, 9:05 am

From PRO14 website:


WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF FEWER REGULAR SEASON GAMES AND NO CROSSOVER WITH INTERNATIONAL WEEKENDS?

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?

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 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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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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Post by RiscaGame Wed 16 Jun 2021, 9:13 am

Not sure where that has been taken from, above.

Just saw on Twitter that the Irish teams voted for full
meritocracy for Champions Cup qualification, but were outvoted.

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Post by Pot Hale Wed 16 Jun 2021, 9:27 am

“The Irish provinces and the IRFU would not have been in favour of the geographical thing for Europe, that’s the only disappointment I have with the competition. We would have all voted for meritocracy.

“It’s only two years and hopefully meritocracy will be reintroduced then, but we were outvoted. The Welsh and the Scottish didn’t want four Irish and four South African teams (qualifying for Europe)." said Mick Dawson, CEO of Leinster.
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Post by The Oracle Wed 16 Jun 2021, 10:03 am

The big bad Welsh and Scots Sad
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Post by BamBam Wed 16 Jun 2021, 10:27 am

As an outsider looking in, gut feel is that the top 8 in the table should get the Champions Cup spots, but think that would only make sense if every team has the same fixtures. With the home and away derby games having such an impact, it probably makes sense to give more importance to the pools.

I also wouldn't want to see the top Euro competition only having teams from 4 countries. On balance it feels like they've got it right

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Post by Pot Hale Wed 16 Jun 2021, 10:28 am

The Oracle wrote:The big bad Welsh and Scots Sad

Well given that the thinking initially about the proposed structure was could be 4 Irish/SA, it's hardly surprising what way the unions voted.

But two years should allow things to bed in.
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Post by neilthom7 Wed 16 Jun 2021, 10:34 am

I think this was a good compromise, I mean if there was complete meritocracy you may end up having a European cup with only 4 nations represented, one of which isn't even in Europe.

We have to balance having a competitive league with making sure that none of the nations get completely left behind.

In regards to the Scottish teams maybe having an easier time by getting to play Zebre, they only play 2 games v Zebre and everyone plays 1 game v Zebre so they can at best get 5 points more out of that.


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Post by mikey_dragon Wed 16 Jun 2021, 10:37 am

I think meritocracy is the way to go, we'll see how the first couple years go first though.

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Post by Brendan Wed 16 Jun 2021, 10:39 am

RiscaGame wrote:Not sure where that has been taken from, above.

Just saw on Twitter that the Irish teams voted for full
meritocracy for Champions Cup qualification, but were outvoted.

How dare they go against the IRFU. furious

It is good to see each of the unions can stand up for themselves and that the shareholders go by the majority. I don't agree with it but I understand why they did it.

I do think we will see more teams from the league winning the Challenge Cup and gaining a spot that way (if it is still on offer) and maybe another team missing out. Either way the fight for the spots will be fierce

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Post by Brendan Wed 16 Jun 2021, 11:30 am

I'm not sure that playing Zebre twice v once is a massive benefit. As an arrogant Munster fan I would expect Munster to get 5pts away to the bottom half of the league. Doesn't always happen. If a team doesn't top their pool realistically they aren't going to win the league.

While Connacht, Dragons and Lions are better teams than Zebre I would be expecting the regional teams with playoff hopes to be picking up atleast 8 points up against them.  Ulster would be looking for 8-9 v Connacht.

The Irish and SA regions appear to be stronger those teams would expect to pick up more wins against the Welsh and Scot/Ita region and pick up enough points to make the playoffs.

As we saw with the Rainbow Cup the regions will take plenty points off each other and so 3 teams could be all in the running for the playoffs.

There will be trophies for the Regionals groups which is nice to as it gives fans a measure of success such as Edinburgh and Ulster who "deserve" a trophy but have Leinster in the way.

I would like to see a Ranfurly Shield type trophy for each Region or the whole competition. It works by a team holding it and every team they play in the league from their region the cup is on the line if they lose the winning team takes it.

Example would be Leinster had it at the Start of the Rainbow Cup.  They would have lost it to Munster.  Munster retained it against Ulster but lost it to Connacht.  Connacht how hold the Cup because Benetton aren't in their Region.  They do it in NZ and you end up with such unusual teams getting it and gives the smaller teams extra motivations.

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Post by Brendan Wed 16 Jun 2021, 11:42 am

As a Munster fan this is the first time that I have worried about Munster missing out on Champions Cup.

If they don't get the auto spot (say Leinster, Bulls, Glasgow & Scarlets) they could easily end up behind Ulster, Stromers, Sharks and Ospreys which would see them out. Same would apply to Ulster or Glasgow which is crazy competition. Means every game will count at the start of the season as you don't want to have to play catch up the whole season.

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Post by The Oracle Wed 16 Jun 2021, 11:44 am

neilthom7 wrote:I think this was a good compromise, I mean if there was complete meritocracy you may end up having a European cup with only 4 nations represented, one of which isn't even in Europe.

We have to balance having a competitive league with making sure that none of the nations get completely left behind.

In regards to the Scottish teams maybe having an easier time by getting to play Zebre, they only play 2 games v Zebre and everyone plays 1 game v Zebre so they can at best get 5 points more out of that.


Plus Zebre will win a few, which most people seem to forget Smile
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Post by Brendan Wed 16 Jun 2021, 12:23 pm

The Oracle wrote:
neilthom7 wrote:I think this was a good compromise, I mean if there was complete meritocracy you may end up having a European cup with only 4 nations represented, one of which isn't even in Europe.

We have to balance having a competitive league with making sure that none of the nations get completely left behind.

In regards to the Scottish teams maybe having an easier time by getting to play Zebre, they only play 2 games v Zebre and everyone plays 1 game v Zebre so they can at best get 5 points more out of that.


Plus Zebre will win a few, which most people seem to forget Smile

Also they are also a young enough team. Not sure Bradley's game is great for getting the most out of the team. They a great going forward but terrible going back

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Post by Old Man Wed 16 Jun 2021, 12:59 pm

I think by next year the SA region will be highly competitive, considering that the Lions beat the Bulls in the Rainbow cup they aren’t easy beats, even with a no name roster.

By next year with more experience and a few new recruits the competition can be tight.

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Post by George Carlin Wed 16 Jun 2021, 1:44 pm

The whole idea that we could see an ER Champions Cup final between Racing 92 and the Sharks is absolutely amazing.

I understand the comments above about the fact that all teams should progress on merit. However, it's also true that the home nations will be relying on this new set-up for the game to survive in each country so I don't think that ensuring there is still interest from all unions even late in the season is too much to ask. The best teams will rise to the top, regardless and the best teams from each nation will give any of the others a competitive game.
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Post by Brendan Wed 16 Jun 2021, 3:15 pm

For the talk of winners missing out on Champions Cup is the winner not ranked 1, losing finalist 2 etc.

That was how it worked for Pro12-14 rugby and how it works for the Prem and T14.  It's why Ulster got lower ranked teams compared to Edinburgh last season. It just sucked for them that Toulouse finished so low down in the T14 the year before.

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Post by BamBam Wed 16 Jun 2021, 3:23 pm

Brendan wrote:For the talk of winners missing out on Champions Cup is the winner not ranked 1, losing finalist 2 etc.

That was how it worked for Pro12-14 rugby and how it works for the Prem and T14.  It's why Ulster got lower ranked teams compared to Edinburgh last season. It just sucked for them that Toulouse finished so low down in the T14 the year before.

By the sounds of the last sentence here, no - its based on the league table rather than playoff results

Q: HOW WILL CHAMPIONS CUP QUALIFICATION WORK?

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.

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Post by Pot Hale Wed 16 Jun 2021, 6:23 pm

Another piece of news on TV rights.

Premier Sports will continue to broadcast most of the 150 odd matches.  However, the FTA deals have generated a  lot more interest this time around.  RTE and TG4  will be showing more than 52 of the 60 games involving the 4 Irish provinces, including playoff matches - with TG4  also committing to show a further 16 games not involving the provinces.  BBC NI will also be covering Ulster home matches, with Premier Sports having most of its away matches in the UK.  

RTE have also committed to a contract to provide a streaming content service for URCTV service for domestic and international access.

The overall URC broadcast TV/Streaming deal is likely to increase annual income from €30m to about €65m over 4 years.

Not bad going at all.

Edit: inserted words "annual income" to last line for clarity.


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Post by neilthom7 Wed 16 Jun 2021, 8:41 pm

I wonder will RTE/TG4 be geo blocked in Northern Ireland for the games they have?

Hopefully fixture lists are released with what tv provider well in advance they are on otherwise it could get complicated finding where they are

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Post by profitius Wed 16 Jun 2021, 9:49 pm

Pot Hale wrote:Another piece of news on TV rights.

Premier Sports will continue to broadcast most of the 150 odd matches.  However, the FTA deals have generated a  lot more interest this time around.  RTE and TG4  will be showing more than 52 of the 60 games involving the 4 Irish provinces, including playoff matches - with TG4  also committing to show a further 16 games not involving the provinces.  BBC NI will also be covering Ulster home matches, with Premier Sports having most of its away matches in the UK.  

RTE have also committed to a contract to provide a streaming content service for URCTV service for domestic and international access.

The overall URC broadcast TV/Streaming deal is likely to increase from €30m to about €65m over 4 years.

Not bad going at all.

Any link for that, Pot? That would be more than the premiership.
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Post by Brendan Wed 16 Jun 2021, 10:29 pm

profitius wrote:
Pot Hale wrote:Another piece of news on TV rights.

Premier Sports will continue to broadcast most of the 150 odd matches.  However, the FTA deals have generated a  lot more interest this time around.  RTE and TG4  will be showing more than 52 of the 60 games involving the 4 Irish provinces, including playoff matches - with TG4  also committing to show a further 16 games not involving the provinces.  BBC NI will also be covering Ulster home matches, with Premier Sports having most of its away matches in the UK.  

RTE have also committed to a contract to provide a streaming content service for URCTV service for domestic and international access.

The overall URC broadcast TV/Streaming deal is likely to increase from €30m to about €65m over 4 years.

Not bad going at all.

Any link for that, Pot? That would be more than the premiership.

It would be split between 16 teams but it does show the potential there is for the teams.

It would be nice to have a good TV deal to be proud of. Helps the 4 Unions keep key players at home

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Post by Pot Hale Thu 17 Jun 2021, 1:57 am

profitius wrote:
Pot Hale wrote:Another piece of news on TV rights.

Premier Sports will continue to broadcast most of the 150 odd matches.  However, the FTA deals have generated a  lot more interest this time around.  RTE and TG4  will be showing more than 52 of the 60 games involving the 4 Irish provinces, including playoff matches - with TG4  also committing to show a further 16 games not involving the provinces.  BBC NI will also be covering Ulster home matches, with Premier Sports having most of its away matches in the UK.  

RTE have also committed to a contract to provide a streaming content service for URCTV service for domestic and international access.

The overall URC broadcast TV/Streaming deal is likely to increase annual income from €30m to about €65m over 4 years.

Not bad going at all.

Any link for that, Pot? That would be more than the premiership.

I should clarify that the reports on that are for a deal that makes annual income for the comp worth €65m/£55m per year over 4 years.  Any number of links reporting it - with the original story in the Financial Times which is behind a paywall unfortunately but this link might work. https://www.ft.com/content/a818f21c-10f3-444b-8f10-3b531e11352b
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Post by Welshmushroom Thu 17 Jun 2021, 9:32 am

One major plus side is the TV revenue is going from last seasons 20 million to a reported 50 million next season.  Clearly the broadcasters are liking this change.

How much of this actually trickles back to the various unions is unclear as CVC will now get a decent cut from this I imagine.  Really did wish they hadn't sold out to CVC so quickly and so cheaply.

This is one deal CVC really will make a ton of money from.

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