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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

First topic message reminder :

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 Old Man Thu 17 Jun 2021, 9:38 pm

I think from a rugby perspective the SA teams will initially struggle with those cold and wet conditions, and I also think that European rugby is more technical than SA rugby, those will be two major contributors for success, the SA teams that can adjust the quickest will stand them in good stead.

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Post by neilthom7 Thu 17 Jun 2021, 9:43 pm

Might not be too bad for some of the SA teams, when you are in weather like that its mostly tight, kick the corners, use the grunt of the forwards stuff and some of those teams should be well suited to that style if needed

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Post by Old Man Thu 17 Jun 2021, 9:48 pm

neilthom7 wrote:Might not be too bad for some of the SA teams, when you are in weather like that its mostly tight, kick the corners, use the grunt of the forwards stuff and some of those teams should be well suited to that style if needed

Bulls are most likely to execute that style, Stormers next, Lions play risky rugby, and Sharks somewhere inbetween

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Post by neilthom7 Thu 17 Jun 2021, 9:58 pm

Should be fine, Ulster generally like an offloading game so if they can do it then I'm sure the SA teams can manage it. It's mostly about knowing when you can play and when you need to keep it tight because of the weather.

I'm worried what our Irish props are going to look like after playing 50-60 mins in 25 degree heat lol

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Post by Old Man Thu 17 Jun 2021, 10:07 pm

6-2 bench, with a spare half back and a utility back Wink

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Post by Brendan Fri 18 Jun 2021, 12:29 am

Old Man wrote:
neilthom7 wrote:Might not be too bad for some of the SA teams, when you are in weather like that its mostly tight, kick the corners, use the grunt of the forwards stuff and some of those teams should be well suited to that style if needed

Bulls are most likely to execute that style, Stormers next, Lions play risky rugby, and Sharks somewhere inbetween

Cheetahs struggled their first season away losing to every team, even taking a hiding from Zebre (the worse team), but won all but one of their home games racking up BPs.  Their coach mentioned the physicality at the breakdown and the tactical kicking of the NH teams was so much higher than SR.  By year three they were much smarter and better able to adapt.

From what I have seen all but the Lions should have close on 100% win rate at home.  Away from home the Bulls with White who knows how to play smart and the physicality of the team should be able to adapt in the first year quickly enough.  The one query will be how they deal with the structured NH defence where most teams make 9/10 tackles and rarely break the first line off first phase.  White will have learned alot in France to be able to adapt.

Stromers and Sharks I think will take a couple of big defeats in the first year away from home and struggle to adapt to the wet and wind that will be so alien to them (even for Irish teams Connacht on a windy day is so difficult).  Second year I think they will have sorted themselves out and be pushing.

Games I'm looking forward to is teams like Connacht, Ulster, Scarlets and Glasgow playing away at the Lions where it should be end to end running and anyone can win.

Hopefully the final this week will let us know more.  Benetton when they have their full team (rarely did this year because of covid bubbles) are pushing for top 6. If the Bulls struggle it's bad news for the SA teams. If Bulls win easily (15+) the big boys (including Leinster) will start to worry.

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Post by Oakdene Fri 18 Jun 2021, 8:27 am

mikey_dragon wrote:
Welshmushroom wrote:If the Scarlets sign a couple of front 5 players to replace some of the players heading off, I can't see the Ospreys beating them.  They simply have a better side.

Main issue for them will be if Peel is actually up to the task.  Seems a bit counter intuitive to sign a inexperienced head coach and assemble a international squad.  Surely getting a seasoned head coach would have been a safer way to go.  

I'm not sure if anyone front-row players need replacing, but they could lose up to 6 for team Wales - perhaps they should have kept Scholtz. I definitely would have also signed a NWQ at lock seeing as they've lost two, both internationals. Centre's look a bit weak too. Ospreys are making signings in all the positions they needed most.

I don't think we will lose both WGJ & Lee to Wales & when the full Scottish squad is back I'm not sure how close Javan will be to the squad, I don't think we could afford those 3 plus Scholtz. We certainly do need a NWQ lock & this may be in the pipeline.

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Post by mikey_dragon Fri 18 Jun 2021, 9:27 am

Oakdene wrote:
mikey_dragon wrote:
Welshmushroom wrote:If the Scarlets sign a couple of front 5 players to replace some of the players heading off, I can't see the Ospreys beating them.  They simply have a better side.

Main issue for them will be if Peel is actually up to the task.  Seems a bit counter intuitive to sign a inexperienced head coach and assemble a international squad.  Surely getting a seasoned head coach would have been a safer way to go.  

I'm not sure if anyone front-row players need replacing, but they could lose up to 6 for team Wales - perhaps they should have kept Scholtz. I definitely would have also signed a NWQ at lock seeing as they've lost two, both internationals. Centre's look a bit weak too. Ospreys are making signings in all the positions they needed most.

I don't think we will lose both WGJ & Lee to Wales & when the full Scottish squad is back I'm not sure how close Javan will be to the squad, I don't think we could afford those 3 plus Scholtz. We certainly do need a NWQ lock & this may be in the pipeline.

I don't think so either but it's possible. Depends if they're all playing and how well Scarlets are doing. I'm just not a fan of Javan, he just isn't very smart on the pitch. Good news if you're bringing in another lock. I also forgot about Johnny Williams, I hope he has better luck with injuries next season!

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Post by doctor_grey Fri 18 Jun 2021, 9:40 am

Brendan wrote:
Old Man wrote:
neilthom7 wrote:Might not be too bad for some of the SA teams, when you are in weather like that its mostly tight, kick the corners, use the grunt of the forwards stuff and some of those teams should be well suited to that style if needed

Bulls are most likely to execute that style, Stormers next, Lions play risky rugby, and Sharks somewhere inbetween

Cheetahs struggled their first season away losing to every team, even taking a hiding from Zebre (the worse team), but won all but one of their home games racking up BPs.  Their coach mentioned the physicality at the breakdown and the tactical kicking of the NH teams was so much higher than SR.  By year three they were much smarter and better able to adapt.

From what I have seen all but the Lions should have close on 100% win rate at home.  Away from home the Bulls with White who knows how to play smart and the physicality of the team should be able to adapt in the first year quickly enough.  The one query will be how they deal with the structured NH defence where most teams make 9/10 tackles and rarely break the first line off first phase.  White will have learned alot in France to be able to adapt.

Stromers and Sharks I think will take a couple of big defeats in the first year away from home and struggle to adapt to the wet and wind that will be so alien to them (even for Irish teams Connacht on a windy day is so difficult).  Second year I think they will have sorted themselves out and be pushing.

Games I'm looking forward to is teams like Connacht, Ulster, Scarlets and Glasgow playing away at the Lions where it should be end to end running and anyone can win.

Hopefully the final this week will let us know more.  Benetton when they have their full team (rarely did this year because of covid bubbles) are pushing for top 6. If the Bulls struggle it's bad news for the SA teams. If Bulls win easily (15+) the big boys (including Leinster) will start to worry.
Funny you say that, and I have heard a few other people say the same thing.  But the Springboks would never be considered shrinking violets at the breakdown or in contact and play a pretty structured game, so I think the SA teams will adapt just fine.

The pitches are a bit different in the north and south and therein lies the difference, methinks.  The best home advantage for the northern teams is playing in a usual January day, freezing cold drizzle, and even the best northern grass pitches are softer and a bit mucky.  And going the other way are northern 'frozen soup' teams adapting to play in summer on hard dry ground.  These are much harder adjustments in just a few days that they appear.  I don't worry about the flights simply because the time zones are similar and all happen overnight.  Eleven or twelve hours at low humidity is an easy day or two recovery and the new agreement gives teams a week.  

I just wonder the reaction the first time the SA teams go play Connacht at their dog track (and the Sportsground IS a dog track).  I bet at pro level they have never seen anything like that.  Especially if the ground crew misses a little present.....

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Post by Oakdene Fri 18 Jun 2021, 9:54 am

mikey_dragon wrote:
Oakdene wrote:
mikey_dragon wrote:
Welshmushroom wrote:If the Scarlets sign a couple of front 5 players to replace some of the players heading off, I can't see the Ospreys beating them.  They simply have a better side.

Main issue for them will be if Peel is actually up to the task.  Seems a bit counter intuitive to sign a inexperienced head coach and assemble a international squad.  Surely getting a seasoned head coach would have been a safer way to go.  

I'm not sure if anyone front-row players need replacing, but they could lose up to 6 for team Wales - perhaps they should have kept Scholtz. I definitely would have also signed a NWQ at lock seeing as they've lost two, both internationals. Centre's look a bit weak too. Ospreys are making signings in all the positions they needed most.

I don't think we will lose both WGJ & Lee to Wales & when the full Scottish squad is back I'm not sure how close Javan will be to the squad, I don't think we could afford those 3 plus Scholtz. We certainly do need a NWQ lock & this may be in the pipeline.

I don't think so either but it's possible. Depends if they're all playing and how well Scarlets are doing. I'm just not a fan of Javan, he just isn't very smart on the pitch. Good news if you're bringing in another lock. I also forgot about Johnny Williams, I hope he has better luck with injuries next season!

Javan has improved & hopefully that's a result of working with Franks who is in the set up with us, I'd like to see more progression in the coming season before making judgment. I hope he has a really good pre-season to help his conditioning. We need the lock & a decent centre really as I don't think Tyler Morgan is the answer sadly. Johnny looked really good in the spells he has played for both region & country.


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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 18 Jun 2021, 1:19 pm

mikey_dragon wrote:
Oakdene wrote:
mikey_dragon wrote:
Welshmushroom wrote:If the Scarlets sign a couple of front 5 players to replace some of the players heading off, I can't see the Ospreys beating them.  They simply have a better side.

Main issue for them will be if Peel is actually up to the task.  Seems a bit counter intuitive to sign a inexperienced head coach and assemble a international squad.  Surely getting a seasoned head coach would have been a safer way to go.  

I'm not sure if anyone front-row players need replacing, but they could lose up to 6 for team Wales - perhaps they should have kept Scholtz. I definitely would have also signed a NWQ at lock seeing as they've lost two, both internationals. Centre's look a bit weak too. Ospreys are making signings in all the positions they needed most.

I don't think we will lose both WGJ & Lee to Wales & when the full Scottish squad is back I'm not sure how close Javan will be to the squad, I don't think we could afford those 3 plus Scholtz. We certainly do need a NWQ lock & this may be in the pipeline.

I don't think so either but it's possible. Depends if they're all playing and how well Scarlets are doing. I'm just not a fan of Javan, he just isn't very smart on the pitch. Good news if you're bringing in another lock. I also forgot about Johnny Williams, I hope he has better luck with injuries next season!

I have it on good authority that the Scarlets are looking to bring a Lock and Centre before next season. But i think that's all they are targeting, so they will have to make that lock top quality. Not sure who is actually available atm as most top end locks have already been signed up.

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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 18 Jun 2021, 1:22 pm

I haven't seen anymore on Malherbe and du Toit for the Stormers. Last piece of news with them in it mentioned they want to head to Japan for next season.

That said I've not seen any final deals in place so wondering if they will actually be staying for the new league.

Stormers will struggle badly without those 2 in the side.


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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 18 Jun 2021, 1:26 pm

I did watch the Pro14 podcast and Martin mentioned South Africa only want 10/11 of their current international pool (currently at 26 i think) abroad.

I'm assuming that means Razzie will be looking to start bringing quite a few back to South Africa. I'd imagine the targets would be any England based stars as some of the Top14 ones are on silly money. I'd imagine most of those had to sign up to the 25% covid pay cut as well so that might be realistic.

Be a major coup for them if they can bring that many home which in turn would strengthen them at club level.

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Post by thebandwagonsociety Fri 18 Jun 2021, 3:51 pm

Old Man wrote: One of the benefits of rugby in Belfast in winter when standing outside is your pint fills up quicker than you can drink it.

I would imagine it isn’t really a pint after it has been refilling with rainwater at halftime? Cool

Closer to a pint of pi$$ Hug

A Heineken Cup........ Tumbleweed
Happy Friday everybody!

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Post by Brendan Fri 18 Jun 2021, 4:39 pm

doctor_grey wrote:
Brendan wrote:
Old Man wrote:
neilthom7 wrote:Might not be too bad for some of the SA teams, when you are in weather like that its mostly tight, kick the corners, use the grunt of the forwards stuff and some of those teams should be well suited to that style if needed

Bulls are most likely to execute that style, Stormers next, Lions play risky rugby, and Sharks somewhere inbetween

Cheetahs struggled their first season away losing to every team, even taking a hiding from Zebre (the worse team), but won all but one of their home games racking up BPs.  Their coach mentioned the physicality at the breakdown and the tactical kicking of the NH teams was so much higher than SR.  By year three they were much smarter and better able to adapt.

From what I have seen all but the Lions should have close on 100% win rate at home.  Away from home the Bulls with White who knows how to play smart and the physicality of the team should be able to adapt in the first year quickly enough.  The one query will be how they deal with the structured NH defence where most teams make 9/10 tackles and rarely break the first line off first phase.  White will have learned alot in France to be able to adapt.

Stromers and Sharks I think will take a couple of big defeats in the first year away from home and struggle to adapt to the wet and wind that will be so alien to them (even for Irish teams Connacht on a windy day is so difficult).  Second year I think they will have sorted themselves out and be pushing.

Games I'm looking forward to is teams like Connacht, Ulster, Scarlets and Glasgow playing away at the Lions where it should be end to end running and anyone can win.

Hopefully the final this week will let us know more.  Benetton when they have their full team (rarely did this year because of covid bubbles) are pushing for top 6. If the Bulls struggle it's bad news for the SA teams. If Bulls win easily (15+) the big boys (including Leinster) will start to worry.
Funny you say that, and I have heard a few other people say the same thing.  But the Springboks would never be considered shrinking violets at the breakdown or in contact and play a pretty structured game, so I think the SA teams will adapt just fine.

The pitches are a bit different in the north and south and therein lies the difference, methinks.  The best home advantage for the northern teams is playing in a usual January day, freezing cold drizzle, and even the best northern grass pitches are softer and a bit mucky.  And going the other way are northern 'frozen soup' teams adapting to play in summer on hard dry ground.  These are much harder adjustments in just a few days that they appear.  I don't worry about the flights simply because the time zones are similar and all happen overnight.  Eleven or twelve hours at low humidity is an easy day or two recovery and the new agreement gives teams a week.  

I just wonder the reaction the first time the SA teams go play Connacht at their dog track (and the Sportsground IS a dog track).  I bet at pro level they have never seen anything like that.  Especially if the ground crew misses a little present.....

Just going off what Roy Ducan said when they moved into the Pro14. The Cheetahs are well use to playing the other SA teams both at SR (as well as the NZ teams) and Currie Cup so they seemed to think it was a step up from SR for phyisicallity. I agree that SA at international are strong but at domestic level it's more running.

There is a difference between being strong and being physical. There is a reason the league produces so many breakdown machines for turning over. SA players run hard as we have seen but not always the smartest when the ball hits the deck.

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Post by BigGee Fri 18 Jun 2021, 4:41 pm

doctor_grey wrote:

I just wonder the reaction the first time the SA teams go play Connacht at their dog track (and the Sportsground IS a dog track).  I bet at pro level they have never seen anything like that.  Especially if the ground crew misses a little present.....


I bet they won't believe it when they take a conversion in front of the posts and the ball blows back over the kickers head as well!

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Post by neilthom7 Fri 18 Jun 2021, 8:16 pm

This tv deal the more I see of it seems to be the URC having its cake and eating it.

Normally you have a choice you can go Pay tv and get more money (short term approach) or you can have freeview and work on getting more viewers but with less money (long term approach).

Usually most places settle on pay tv with the odd game or highlights on free tv

However URC (possibly CVC) have managed to convince Premier Sports to part with their money and still allow them to have a large number of games on free tv too.

I don't know who their negotiator is but I could do with them here when I'm trying to convince my boss to give me a pay rise.

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Post by RiscaGame Fri 18 Jun 2021, 9:07 pm

I agree Neil.

I’m obviously going to get Premier now they still show every game, but I don’t like the multi coverage. It always used to delay the fixture announcement. The long term approach doesn’t work for me, because it’s pandering to a lot of people, who don’t support clubs playing and probably never will. One broadcaster would allow them to improve any perceived issues with broadcasting and improve their output. I gather Premier are on about that already, but for me I would rather all or nothing.

Be interesting to see what BBC Wales do with it now too. Will they now improve their coverage and not come in five minutes before kick off etc.

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Post by Brendan Fri 18 Jun 2021, 9:19 pm

All I can think is that Premier have looked at the numbers and have decided that people who subscribe want to watch all the matches not just their locals and are happy to pay that.

If the figure reported is true how much of that is down to the SA TV deal.  Or else the TV people have brought the dream and are hoping to get in early.

On the Pod there was talk about using people who deal with commercials deals every day rather than the once every 4 years most rugby people use.

While some might say this shows selling to CVC was done too quickly, I say this shows CVC are already delivering the bigger pie.

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Post by neilthom7 Fri 18 Jun 2021, 9:23 pm

I don't have much of a problem with multiple broadcasters as long as the fixtures and what they will be on are released in plenty of time and well signposted otherwise it will get chaotic and hard to know where the game is.

I agree the people that don't pay a tenner a month probably aren't going to really contribute to the leagues finances in any substantial way but having some games on free tv is a good thing to make sure you pick up the younger generation and those who are maybe just getting into it.

The thing I read posted by Ulster today was saying how Ulster away games would be exclusively live on Premier Sports so I assume to achieve that there will be a lot of geo blocking if those games are also the free to air ones on BBC Wales for example.

It sounds quite complicated but hopefully once all the deals are signed they will simplify it so we all know where we stand.

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Post by BigGee Fri 18 Jun 2021, 11:24 pm

Because I live in London and the nearest Glasgow game for me will be in Newport, I just love having access to every Glasgow fixture on tv, something i have rarely had in all my years of being a Glasgow supporter.

I also love being able to see any other game i want for a tenner a month, especially the Edinburgh games, to keep track of the Scotland players but especially to remind me why I love being a Glasgow fan kiss

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Post by doctor_grey Sat 19 Jun 2021, 1:54 pm

BigGee wrote:Because I live in London and the nearest Glasgow game for me will be in Newport, I just love having access to every Glasgow fixture on tv, something i have rarely had in all my years of being a Glasgow supporter.

I also love being able to see any other game i want for a tenner a month, especially the Edinburgh games, to keep track of the Scotland players but especially to remind me why I love being a Glasgow fan kiss
Hmmm, 'A stranger in a strange land'. If you live in London for a few more years and, almost by osmosis, you will (d)evolve to become a Saracens fan and then we can dislike you.....

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Post by Pot Hale Sun 20 Jun 2021, 1:53 pm

Some further news on URC. The comp’s administrators based in Dublin are talking with EPCR and World Rugby about bringing in a salary cap structure for the URC and ideally that would be adopted by other leagues as well in terms of principles with links between revenues earned and playing/coaching salary budget.

Interesting development.
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Post by BigGee Sun 20 Jun 2021, 3:24 pm

doctor_grey wrote:
BigGee wrote:Because I live in London and the nearest Glasgow game for me will be in Newport, I just love having access to every Glasgow fixture on tv, something i have rarely had in all my years of being a Glasgow supporter.

I also love being able to see any other game i want for a tenner a month, especially the Edinburgh games, to keep track of the Scotland players but especially to remind me why I love being a Glasgow fan kiss
Hmmm, 'A stranger in a strange land'.  If you live in London for a few more years and, almost by osmosis, you will (d)evolve to become a Saracens fan and then we can dislike you.....


I have been in London a long time and it has not happened yet fortunately Very Happy

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Post by The Oracle Sun 20 Jun 2021, 5:18 pm

Pot Hale wrote:Some further news on URC.   The comp’s administrators based in Dublin are talking with EPCR and World Rugby about bringing in a salary cap structure for the URC and ideally that would be adopted by other leagues as well in terms of principles with links between revenues earned and playing/coaching salary budget.  

Interesting development.  

Interesting indeed. I don’t want to start another argument, but it seems that some of the suggestions certain Welsh posters have made on these boards and subsequently been slated for/laughed at/told to be realistic etc., seem to be being considered and brought in by the league. Again, interesting.
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Post by Old Man Sun 20 Jun 2021, 6:03 pm

The French clubs will vote against it.

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Post by BigGee Sun 20 Jun 2021, 6:23 pm

A salary cap within an individual league makes some sense but not sure how you could have the same cap for different leagues, who all have very different financial models.

It may or may not make much difference in the URC, with some clubs being unable to spend up to the cap in any case. The cap would presumably be set to accomodate the existing big spenders

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Post by neilthom7 Sun 20 Jun 2021, 8:01 pm

Salary caps a good idea......... in theory.

In reality there is a great deal that needs to be thought about and across multiple leagues it's even more.

First of all you have the obvious chance that teams will try to find ways round it (if across multiple leagues who polices it)

Secondly if doing it across many leagues some leagues(teams) will be worse affected than others because of where they are based. The cost of living in London or Paris for example is a lot more than Belfast so they have to pay players more.

Thirdly whats the cap going to be, too high and it makes absolutely no difference, too low and it evens things up but also puts a ceiling on players wages.

Given the strain on players bodies if you are going to put a cap on that really limits what players could earn will it be worth it for people to play? If not you lose players and quality. It's not like rugby players are on huge amounts when you compare to other sports given the amount of physical contact they take and how long their careers can be.

Regardless of any of the above, getting the French to agree to any sort of cap that makes a difference would be difficult as would getting the players unions etc to agree and it would be very difficult to force on players as if they became unhappy and legally challenged it as being too low there is probably a fair to good chance at least in European Union it could be declared unlawful.

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Post by Pot Hale Sun 20 Jun 2021, 9:09 pm

Premier Sports will show every game in the United Rugby Championship to audiences in the UK and Ireland for the next four years as they extend their partnership with the league.

The league continues its partnership with Premier Sports as they extend their rights into Ireland while making a firm commitment to take their coverage to the next level.

Headline names such as Stephen Ferris, Andrew Trimble, John Barclay, Jim Hamilton, Shane Williams and Tom Shanklin will continue to offer Irish, Scottish and Welsh supporters key insight from personalities who have played at the highest levels.

In addition, Premier Sports will introduce territory specific commentary teams for their live URC games, increase studio coverage and launch a new and improved Premier Player OTT service for UK customers. Premier Sports will provide UK audiences with more than 100 exclusive URC games as the best of South Africa face off against their new Irish, Italian, Welsh and Scottish rivals.
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Post by doctor_grey Mon 21 Jun 2021, 2:01 am

All I know, if I am still in America (Boris please pull thy head out, s'il vous plait), it better be on television or streamed here.  Super Rugby Aotearoa didn't give a flying f**k about most of the rest of the world, so it shouldn't be televised there under any pretenses.  I presume ESPN will handle over here in the colonies as they have been very reliable and gobble content to show.  I am really looking forward to this and wish the Premiership would show more vision and creativity like this.

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Post by Brendan Mon 21 Jun 2021, 8:03 pm

A prohlem with the cap that is never talked about is thecamount of games being played. If the French clubs play 32 games do they get a bigger cap.

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Post by Brendan Wed 23 Jun 2021, 5:05 pm

Ospreys building a nice squad for next year. Seems to be coming back towards the top.

Some money issues between the Regions and WRU that might have an issue with recruitment for the other three Regions.

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Post by Old Man Wed 23 Jun 2021, 5:25 pm

I think the Bulls loss to Benetton is the best thing that could have happened for the SA franchises.

They will take from that the need to be more technically astute at the breakdown, control territory better and learn to read the referees from the NH, they would also need to up the variation of their attack, the European defensive structures are all about the close defence around the ruck, one off runners won’t cut it.

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Post by Brendan Wed 23 Jun 2021, 11:53 pm

Old Man wrote:I think the Bulls loss to Benetton is the best thing that could have happened for the SA franchises.

They will take from that the need to be more technically astute at the breakdown, control territory better and learn to read the referees from the NH, they would also need to up the variation of their attack, the European defensive structures are all about the close defence around the ruck, one off runners won’t cut it.

I still can't get over how much they were a deer in headlights and seemed to be so panicked. For a team who had won everything in SA they seemed like it was their first final.

It really does seem to have made people sit up and see that even poor teams are good teams. Benetton though did seem to be so on top and I think only gave away one scrum penalty and dealt with the maul easily which I am sure was a big surprise to many of the Bulls fans.

The year before Covid Benetton had pushed Munster hard in a Pro14 quarter so they are not too bad. Also it surprised me how many comments where surprised that Benetton had a fair few non Italians that were good quality, going off the comments it seemed they thought it would be 90% Italian. Also glad they also recognised what a player Gabisi is becoming.

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Post by mikey_dragon Thu 24 Jun 2021, 12:00 am

Most teams in the NH are big and attritional. I know SA are also good at that but it requires variation. Cheetahs were a good example of mixing it up, they concentrated on speed of ball at the ruck and flinging it wide. You hit the rucks hard enough and play at a fast pace, the NH struggle. Cheetahs dished out a few good beatings to us. It’s shocking how they’re just gone.

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Post by profitius Thu 24 Jun 2021, 8:04 am

Bulls thought they just had to turn up. To be fair to them it's hard to compare teams if they play in 2 different bubbles so they must have been thinking Benetton are no good based on all the talk during the week.

Benetton playing like that could be a top 8 side but they usually have dips throughout the season.


The goal for the SA teams must be to retain more of their star players. That depends on the money the URC generates as well as fans being allowed back.
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Post by George Carlin Thu 24 Jun 2021, 8:54 am

Old Man wrote:I think the Bulls loss to Benetton is the best thing that could have happened for the SA franchises.

They will take from that the need to be more technically astute at the breakdown, control territory better and learn to read the referees from the NH, they would also need to up the variation of their attack, the European defensive structures are all about the close defence around the ruck, one off runners won’t cut it.
Completely agree with this. It's always very interesting how a load of people who only watch pro games in one hemisphere form a view as to whether their league plays at a higher standard to the other. It's very, very difficult to judge who would come out on top, particular in weather conditions that one side is simply not used to.
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Post by Brendan Thu 24 Jun 2021, 11:46 am

George Carlin wrote:
Old Man wrote:I think the Bulls loss to Benetton is the best thing that could have happened for the SA franchises.

They will take from that the need to be more technically astute at the breakdown, control territory better and learn to read the referees from the NH, they would also need to up the variation of their attack, the European defensive structures are all about the close defence around the ruck, one off runners won’t cut it.
Completely agree with this. It's always very interesting how a load of people who only watch pro games in one hemisphere form a view as to whether their league plays at a higher standard to the other. It's very, very difficult to judge who would come out on top, particular in weather conditions that one side is simply not used to.

I think in times past it was true but the 3 SH teams have been pulled back in at international level.  With SA moving North and money an issue with TT I think it would be safe to say that the Champions Cup will be the pinnacle of Club/Regional rugby.

It will be interesting how the TT adapts to the lack of physically in it.  Europe has a nice breakdown between the leagues.  T14 is physicality and endurance, Prem is set-piece and URC is breakdown.  Those three things means to be a top team in europe (or domestic league) you must be good at all three.  No more can you just do one really well and be at the business end which is why teams like Saints have struggled even though they are a great running team.  As long as the three leagues excel at different things it keeps all the leagues strong.  The TT is on a path to only have one style played by all 12 teams which will not help any nation involved.

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Post by Old Man Thu 24 Jun 2021, 12:20 pm

Brendan wrote:
George Carlin wrote:
Old Man wrote:I think the Bulls loss to Benetton is the best thing that could have happened for the SA franchises.

They will take from that the need to be more technically astute at the breakdown, control territory better and learn to read the referees from the NH, they would also need to up the variation of their attack, the European defensive structures are all about the close defence around the ruck, one off runners won’t cut it.
Completely agree with this. It's always very interesting how a load of people who only watch pro games in one hemisphere form a view as to whether their league plays at a higher standard to the other. It's very, very difficult to judge who would come out on top, particular in weather conditions that one side is simply not used to.

I think in times past it was true but the 3 SH teams have been pulled back in at international level.  With SA moving North and money an issue with TT I think it would be safe to say that the Champions Cup will be the pinnacle of Club/Regional rugby.

It will be interesting how the TT adapts to the lack of physically in it.  Europe has a nice breakdown between the leagues.  T14 is physicality and endurance, Prem is set-piece and URC is breakdown.  Those three things means to be a top team in europe (or domestic league) you must be good at all three.  No more can you just do one really well and be at the business end which is why teams like Saints have struggled even though they are a great running team.  As long as the three leagues excel at different things it keeps all the leagues strong.  The TT is on a path to only have one style played by all 12 teams which will not help any nation involved.

Also remember SA domestic rugby is not what it once was, we have more big names in Europe playing than in these franchises.

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Post by Brendan Thu 24 Jun 2021, 2:20 pm

mikey_dragon wrote:Most teams in the NH are big and attritional. I know SA are also good at that but it requires variation. Cheetahs were a good example of mixing it up, they concentrated on speed of ball at the ruck and flinging it wide. You hit the rucks hard enough and play at a fast pace, the NH struggle. Cheetahs dished out a few good beatings to us. It’s shocking how they’re just gone.  

Cheetahs were great at home but took beatings away in their first season. As the next two years roled on they became able to better compete with the other teams away. It seems all the knowledge learned by the cheetahs was lost to SA rugby. They talked about how much different the game was and how tactical it was but I guess the big boys thought it was just them being a weak team which is really sad. I also think the Cheetahs help the NH team deal better against that quick attack while also improving their own. Sharks will take that to another level.

Anyone listing to the Pro14 pod has heard them talk all the time about the style the SA teams played wouldn't work against the NH teams and that the NH teams would make hay off the SA defence structure so it wasn't unknown. I think like SH teams in the past that it was NH poor attacking that made NH defence look good and their faster, stronger more skilful players would still find those gaps like the SH teams did every AI test window they came North and we thought the gap had closed.

Watershed moment in the NH v SH cycle was the rush defence adopted by the NH for me. The Lions v NZ and then followed up by England and Ireland in 2018 (which NZ only scored 25pts in two games). SA was less affected because of their NH players and Rassie having left Ireland in 2017 so knew that type of defence and added to making SA better defensively.

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Post by Brendan Thu 24 Jun 2021, 2:31 pm

Old Man wrote:
Brendan wrote:
George Carlin wrote:
Old Man wrote:I think the Bulls loss to Benetton is the best thing that could have happened for the SA franchises.

They will take from that the need to be more technically astute at the breakdown, control territory better and learn to read the referees from the NH, they would also need to up the variation of their attack, the European defensive structures are all about the close defence around the ruck, one off runners won’t cut it.
Completely agree with this. It's always very interesting how a load of people who only watch pro games in one hemisphere form a view as to whether their league plays at a higher standard to the other. It's very, very difficult to judge who would come out on top, particular in weather conditions that one side is simply not used to.

I think in times past it was true but the 3 SH teams have been pulled back in at international level.  With SA moving North and money an issue with TT I think it would be safe to say that the Champions Cup will be the pinnacle of Club/Regional rugby.

It will be interesting how the TT adapts to the lack of physically in it.  Europe has a nice breakdown between the leagues.  T14 is physicality and endurance, Prem is set-piece and URC is breakdown.  Those three things means to be a top team in europe (or domestic league) you must be good at all three.  No more can you just do one really well and be at the business end which is why teams like Saints have struggled even though they are a great running team.  As long as the three leagues excel at different things it keeps all the leagues strong.  The TT is on a path to only have one style played by all 12 teams which will not help any nation involved.

Also remember SA domestic rugby is not what it once was, we have more big names in Europe playing than in these franchises.

Hopefully the doubling in revenue will result in SA teams being able to raise the cap to R100m (£5m). That would be a game changer for the SA teams especially with the smaller English wage cap.

I know that money will be divided up weirdly the first few years but £55 for 16 teams is £2.4m (R47m) after the CVC cut.

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Post by Old Man Thu 24 Jun 2021, 3:26 pm

Brendan wrote:
Old Man wrote:
Brendan wrote:
George Carlin wrote:
Old Man wrote:I think the Bulls loss to Benetton is the best thing that could have happened for the SA franchises.

They will take from that the need to be more technically astute at the breakdown, control territory better and learn to read the referees from the NH, they would also need to up the variation of their attack, the European defensive structures are all about the close defence around the ruck, one off runners won’t cut it.
Completely agree with this. It's always very interesting how a load of people who only watch pro games in one hemisphere form a view as to whether their league plays at a higher standard to the other. It's very, very difficult to judge who would come out on top, particular in weather conditions that one side is simply not used to.

I think in times past it was true but the 3 SH teams have been pulled back in at international level.  With SA moving North and money an issue with TT I think it would be safe to say that the Champions Cup will be the pinnacle of Club/Regional rugby.

It will be interesting how the TT adapts to the lack of physically in it.  Europe has a nice breakdown between the leagues.  T14 is physicality and endurance, Prem is set-piece and URC is breakdown.  Those three things means to be a top team in europe (or domestic league) you must be good at all three.  No more can you just do one really well and be at the business end which is why teams like Saints have struggled even though they are a great running team.  As long as the three leagues excel at different things it keeps all the leagues strong.  The TT is on a path to only have one style played by all 12 teams which will not help any nation involved.

Also remember SA domestic rugby is not what it once was, we have more big names in Europe playing than in these franchises.

Hopefully the doubling in revenue will result in SA teams being able to raise the cap to R100m (£5m). That would be a game changer for the SA teams especially with the smaller English wage cap.

I know that money will be divided up weirdly the first few years but £55 for 16 teams is £2.4m (R47m) after the CVC cut.
Yes, I believe that is SARU’s hope

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Post by Brendan Thu 24 Jun 2021, 4:57 pm

Would you rather the Scottish model of "the max we will pay a player is X, if they want more go get it somewhere else" or the Irish model of "keep the top players (unless wage not worth it) and fill the squad with young cheap players, leaving the older players to go abroad"

If the teams do get a bigger budget I think the SA teams should sign a good NZ player per team just to show the NZRU the result of their 8 team new competition they wanted that forced the hand of the SARU to move North whole hog.  They are use to the NH and Japan having the money but if SA were seen to be a step up too I can't think of anything else that would upset them more and make SA feel satisfied.

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Post by Old Man Thu 24 Jun 2021, 5:22 pm

SARU’s stance has been in recent years that they realise they cannot afford to keep top players, however when they changed their financial model to half the number of paid proffessionals from around 900 to about 450 I think they went in the right direction, having a squad size of 45 and cap of R 60 mil.

What I think they are currently doing wrong is to still tie the super rugby franchises to the provinces, so the Super Rugby Bulls are still also essentially the Bulls in Currie Cup as well.

The link between Varsity Cup to Super Rugby is where I belive they can improve.

First and foremost we have a boatload full of players that could have a better path to the Super Rugby Franchises, and I think we should have eight franchises (that is how many licenses were granted by SARU)

Our eight franchises should operate independantly from the Currie Cup Provinces.

So the 14 Currie Cup teams, be it in two tiers as they currently are, or a single tier (which I would prefer) should be 14 squads of 45 players with a cap of perhaps R20 mil cap (enough to make a decent living and expose around 600 players to professional rugby)

Then the eight franchises above that. Have four in URC and the other four and perhaps a second tier european linked competition.

The tier 1 Franchises with R100 mil cap and the second tier franchises with R60 mil cap.

The pathway for players would mean they can move from Varsity Cup and our U21 Currie Cup to Currie Cup, then tier 2 Franchise Rugby, then to tier 1 franchise rugby.

We do need to find a way to keep as many top players in the tier 1 as possible.

I do think central contracting becomes necessary in the Franchise rugby teams as to make sure talent doesn’t crop to one team only and some of the best players sit on the bench.

I don’t mind if we have a marque player or two per franchise from other nations, but then every marque player from outside means that is one top SA player you cannot afford to keep.

There has been the odd New Zealnder who played a season in SA, even Michalack played for the Sharks a few seasons.

Whether it irks the New Zealanders if this becomes beneficial to SA rugb, I don’t really care about things like that.

For me it is important that our structures bring through as many talented players as possible, there are still some sectors that think transformation is affecting our rugby, if we can flood the Provinces with more talent and provide more opportunities for players from previously (and current) disadvantaged areas it will put and end to that perception.

I just want our rugby to reach its full potential, develop more quality coaches, better administrators and better players

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Post by Brendan Thu 24 Jun 2021, 9:10 pm

I think the SARU are focusing on the other top teams like Cheetahs, Griquas and Pumas and are the driving force behind the development of a Division 2 or Regional joined up tournament under the URC which will give places to a 24 team Challange Cup.. If a suitable second division (of players rather than teams moving up and down) that can raise some money would be great for each of the unions involved.

Premier sports (via free sports) have got the rights to the Super 6 in Scotland. They already show Currie Cup and Mitre 10.

Things don't often happen in isolation and can't imagine Super 6 being big outside of Scotland (or outside of the 6 areas) for a tv company to just take it on for no reason.

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Post by Brendan Thu 24 Jun 2021, 9:16 pm

Old Man wrote:SARU’s stance has been in recent years that they realise they cannot afford to keep top players, however when they changed their financial model to half the number of paid proffessionals from around 900 to about 450 I think they went in the right direction, having a squad size of 45 and cap of R 60 mil.

What I think they are currently doing wrong is to still tie the super rugby franchises to the provinces, so the Super Rugby Bulls are still also essentially the Bulls in Currie Cup as well.

The link between Varsity Cup to Super Rugby is where I belive they can improve.

First and foremost we have a boatload full of players that could have a better path to the Super Rugby Franchises, and I think we should have eight franchises (that is how many licenses were granted by SARU)

Our eight franchises should operate independantly from the Currie Cup Provinces.

So the 14 Currie Cup teams, be it in two tiers as they currently are, or a single tier (which I would prefer) should be 14 squads of 45 players with a cap of perhaps R20 mil cap (enough to make a decent living and expose around 600 players to professional rugby)

Then the eight franchises above that. Have four in URC and the other four and perhaps a second tier european linked competition.

The tier 1 Franchises with R100 mil cap and the second tier franchises with R60 mil cap.

The pathway for players would mean they can move from Varsity Cup and our U21 Currie Cup to Currie Cup, then tier 2 Franchise Rugby, then to tier 1 franchise rugby.

We do need to find a way to keep as many top players in the tier 1 as possible.

I do think central contracting becomes necessary in the Franchise rugby teams as to make sure talent doesn’t crop to one team only and some of the best players sit on the bench.

I don’t mind if we have a marque player or two per franchise from other nations, but then every marque player from outside means that is one top SA player you cannot afford to keep.

There has been the odd New Zealnder who played a season in SA, even Michalack played for the Sharks a few seasons.

Whether it irks the New Zealanders if this becomes beneficial to SA rugb, I don’t really care about things like that.

For me it is important that our structures bring through as many talented players as possible, there are still some sectors that think transformation is affecting our rugby, if we can flood the Provinces with more talent and provide more opportunities for players from previously (and current) disadvantaged areas it will put and end to that perception.

I just want our rugby to reach its full potential, develop more quality coaches, better administrators and better players

4 Teams with R100m and 4 with R60m would keep enough players at home and provide a strong domestic set-up.

Is there any rumour in SA about the value that Super Sport will pay for the URC.

Brendan

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Post by Brendan Thu 24 Jun 2021, 9:24 pm

Also any T2 tournament I would like to see the URC approach the RFU to incorporate the championship if the Premership were ringfenced.

Would add to the chimney pots to increase market value while also allowing the English market be tapped. Teams like Doncaster, Priates, Coventry and Jersey would love the idea and the RFU would feel obliged to do it after shafting them.

Easy to put in a rule that they can't quailify for a European spot.

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Post by Old Man Thu 24 Jun 2021, 9:58 pm

Brendan wrote:
Old Man wrote:SARU’s stance has been in recent years that they realise they cannot afford to keep top players, however when they changed their financial model to half the number of paid proffessionals from around 900 to about 450 I think they went in the right direction, having a squad size of 45 and cap of R 60 mil.

What I think they are currently doing wrong is to still tie the super rugby franchises to the provinces, so the Super Rugby Bulls are still also essentially the Bulls in Currie Cup as well.

The link between Varsity Cup to Super Rugby is where I belive they can improve.

First and foremost we have a boatload full of players that could have a better path to the Super Rugby Franchises, and I think we should have eight franchises (that is how many licenses were granted by SARU)

Our eight franchises should operate independantly from the Currie Cup Provinces.

So the 14 Currie Cup teams, be it in two tiers as they currently are, or a single tier (which I would prefer) should be 14 squads of 45 players with a cap of perhaps R20 mil cap (enough to make a decent living and expose around 600 players to professional rugby)

Then the eight franchises above that. Have four in URC and the other four and perhaps a second tier european linked competition.

The tier 1 Franchises with R100 mil cap and the second tier franchises with R60 mil cap.

The pathway for players would mean they can move from Varsity Cup and our U21 Currie Cup to Currie Cup, then tier 2 Franchise Rugby, then to tier 1 franchise rugby.

We do need to find a way to keep as many top players in the tier 1 as possible.

I do think central contracting becomes necessary in the Franchise rugby teams as to make sure talent doesn’t crop to one team only and some of the best players sit on the bench.

I don’t mind if we have a marque player or two per franchise from other nations, but then every marque player from outside means that is one top SA player you cannot afford to keep.

There has been the odd New Zealnder who played a season in SA, even Michalack played for the Sharks a few seasons.

Whether it irks the New Zealanders if this becomes beneficial to SA rugb, I don’t really care about things like that.

For me it is important that our structures bring through as many talented players as possible, there are still some sectors that think transformation is affecting our rugby, if we can flood the Provinces with more talent and provide more opportunities for players from previously (and current) disadvantaged areas it will put and end to that perception.

I just want our rugby to reach its full potential, develop more quality coaches, better administrators and better players

4 Teams with R100m and 4 with R60m would keep enough players at home and provide a strong domestic set-up.

Is there any rumour in SA about the value that Super Sport will pay for the URC.

Nothing yet, it was reported a few years ago that Supersport was paying $30 mil per year for Currie Cup, I would assume URC would get more. Not sure though

Old Man

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Post by Cyril Thu 24 Jun 2021, 10:11 pm

Welcome to the future of English, SA and Irish sides in the business end of the top European tournament. You built it.

Cyril

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Post by Pot Hale Fri 25 Jun 2021, 12:25 am

Cyril wrote:Welcome to the future of English, SA and Irish sides in the business end of the top European tournament. You built it.

Thank you. Nice to hear an English fan acknowledge that.
Pot Hale
Pot Hale

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