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URC Team by Team Review 2021/22

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RiscaGame
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Post by Welshmushroom Thu 15 Jul 2021, 11:47 am

First topic message reminder :

As per the header here's my take so far on URC rugby on a team by team basis.  Granted not all teams have finished recruitment just yet but here is what we have so far.  Will update as further recruitment happens.

Leinster

In: Michael Milne promoted from Academy, David Hawkshaw promoted from Academy, Nick McCarthy from Munster,
Michael Ala'alatoa from Crusaders, Tom Clarkson promoted from Academy

Out: Michael Bent, Cian Kelleher, Greg McGrath, Hugh O'Sullivan, Rowan Osborne, Scott Fardy, Paddy Patterson, Sam Illo

Comments: Not much movement this season so far.  Ala'alatoa is the big addition at Tighthead.  Will be available for them all season and possibly is the long term replacement for Furlong who only signed for a 12 month contract and is probably leaving Ireland after that.

Predicted League Position: 1st.  Easy starting prediction.  The Champions have a quality squad throughout and that hasn't changed going into next season.  With the new format switching to 15 games and teams outside of Ireland only facing Leinster once (either home and away), I do expect it to be harder for them as teams will most probably start fielding full strength sides especially at home.  That said they are one of Europe's best for a reason.  I don't think anyone else really can oust them.

Munster

In: Jake Flannery promoted from Academy, James French promoted from Academy, Seán French promoted from Academy, Ben Healy promoted from Academy, John Hodnett promoted from Academy, Rowan Osborne from Leinster, Thomas Ahern promoted from Academy, Jack Crowley promoted from Academy, Jack Daly promoted from Academy, ason Jenkins from Toyota Verblitz, Josh Wycherley promoted from Academy, Simon Zebo from Racing 92,Paddy Patterson

Out: Nick McCarthy, Billy Holland, Alex Wootton, CJ Stander,  JJ Hanrahan, Tommy O'Donnell, Rhys Marshall, James Cronin

Comments: Lots of Academy promotions this season for Munster.  Notable signings are Zebo and Jenkins, both of which should feature heavily.  They do have some big names finishing however so Stander & Cronin probably offset the improvements from the signings.  Also some key older heads retiring as well who played key roles for Munster.  

Predicted League Position: 2nd.  I think Coombes will replace to void by Stander and with the bulk they have added in Jenkins will see them in a good spot during the winter months.  I think Thomond will still be a fortress for them although away wins next season will be harder to come by although that's the same for everyone.  Still a quality outfit.

Ulster

In: Aaron Sexton promoted from Academy, Nathan Doak promoted from Academy, Tom Stewart promoted from Academy, Ethan McIlroy promoted from Academy, Callum Reid promoted from Academy, David McCann promoted from Academy, Cormac Izuchukwu promoted from Academy,


Out: Hayden Hyde, Adam McBurney, Alby Mathewson, Kyle McCall, Matt Faddes, Bill Johnston

Comments: No incoming signings so far.  Outbound are only fringe players but the lack of additions at this point won't see them improve from last seasons outings unless some Academy players do manage to add to their squad.  

Predicted League Position: 5th.  So I know they finished last year on an overall table in second place and Ravenhill will still be a key factor to wining a lot of their games.  But a lot of this will be determined by how the fixture list falls.  I don't think this Ulster side will win as many away games as they did last year.  Main reason is with a reduced number of matches and only playing some of these sides once, I'd imagine a lot of teams will be fielding full strength sides.  It's going to be close though and I while I only have them ranked at 5th they could easily finish higher as they have had form on their side.

Connacht

In: Oran McNulty promoted from Academy, Cian Prendergast promoted from Academy, Dylan Tierney-Martin promoted from Academy, Alex Wootton from Munster, Mack Hansen from Brumbies, Leva Fifita from Grenoble, Shayne Bolton from Shimlas, Greg McGrath from Leinster, Sam Illo


Out: Quinn Roux, Stephen Fitzgerald, Seán O'Brien, Stephen Kerins, Conor Dean, Colm de Buitléar, Paddy McAllister, Cillian Gallagher, Conor Kenny, Seán O'Brien

Comments: Wootton isn't a new signing really as he was on loan with them last season.  Roux is a big loss for them.

Predicted League Position: 10th.  Ok based on last season this seems a totally unrealistic prediction but not without reasoning.  First major drawback for Connacht will be they will be playing Munster, Leinster and Ulster home and away.  They have it harder compared to some of the other sides who simply will have some weaker opposition.  Add into the fact Connacht will be coming up against some quality teams away from home outside of Ireland and wins could start getting hard to come by.  Looking at how other sides have recruited as well won't help Connacht.  I also expect every single team in the league to fight tooth and nail to get HC spots.  Something I think Connacht may miss out on next season.


Scarlets

In: WillGriff John from Sale Sharks, Carwyn Tuipulotu promoted from Academy, Morgan Jones promoted from Academy, Tomás Lezana from Western Force, Dom Booth promoted from Academy, Kemsley Mathias promoted from Academy, Iestyn Rees promoted from Academy, Scott Williams from Ospreys, Tom Price from Exeter

Out: Jake Ball, Werner Kruger, Jac Morgan, Uzair Cassiem, Osian Knott, Harri Doel, Paul Asquith, Dylan Evans, Will Homer, Ed Kennedy, Joseph Miles, Tom Phillips, Pieter Scholtz, Danny Drake

Comments: Some big players leaving Scarlets this year.  Ball and Cassiem don't look like they have been replaced with equal or better players.  On paper their starting 15 looks weaker.  Lezana is a bit of a unknown quantity and he may turn our to be brilliant or poor.  Hard to tell until we see him in action.  My main issue with them is they look light weight in the front 5 and that may not help things for them in the Winter period.

Prediction: 6th.  I think they will finish behind Ulster but they still have to much for around half of the league.  That said i suspect the may be displaced next season as the best welsh region, mainly due to the lack of forward fire power.  Still have one of the best back lines in the league though so will be dangerous regardless.

Ospreys

In: Tomas Francis from Exeter, Jac Morgan from Scarlets, Ben Warren from Cardiff, Osian Knott from Scarlets, Michael Collins from Highlanders, Jack Regan from Highlanders,
Elvis Taione from Exeter, Alex Cuthbert from Exeter

Out: Guido Volpi, Cory Allen, Ben Cambriani, Rhys Davies, Gareth Evans, Garyn Lloyd, Bradley Roderick, Rhys Thomas, Jordan Walters, Caine Woolerton, Luke Price, Scott Williams, Shaun Venter, Jordan Lay, Nicky Thomas

Comments: No major losses for the Ospreys as Allen and Williams never really worked out for them.  They were on big salaries too so Booth has clearly free'd up budget by releasing some under performers.  Francis heads the major signing columns but Cuthbert & Morgan are both major coups for the region.

Prediction: 3rd.  On paper at least the front 8 look like they can hold their own.  The major reason for the improvement and why I think they will be the top region is Booth.  He has clearly been the right man for the job.  He has strengthened his squad in the right areas and the Ospreys look like will have a fairly potent backline.  But Francis has been key for them.  At home I don't see many teams beating them (maybe Leinster or Munster at a push).  Aside from that they will also be helped with the fact unlike the Irish they will have to play the Scarlets, Blues & Dragons which will more than likely result in more points gained from those encounters than any of the Irish provinces will be able to bank on.  


Cardiff

In: Immanuel Feyi-Waboso promoted from Academy, Rhys Priestland from Bath, Matthew Screech from Dragons,

Out: Ben Warren, Ioan Davies, Ethan Lewis, Ioan Rhys Davies, Cory Hill (unconfirmed)

Comments: Hill will be a big loss although its not officially been announced yet (heading to Japan) but Screech had a great season last year with the Dragons.  I still don't think they have gained if at all in this area.  Priestland is not an inspiring signing has his best rugby is behind him.  Will play a back up roll to Jarrod for sure.  Not other major signings which leaves the squad similar to last year.

Prediction: 8th.  I think they will finish above Connacht but only just.  The new signings and outgoings haven't made me think they will be able to compete with the Scarlets or Ospreys.  I think form has made me place them at 8th but in all honesty as a Dragons fan they may have problems against us and it's not totally inconceivable that they finish bottom of the Welsh Regions.  Granted for that to happen Dragons would have to play the season of their lives so I'll stick with my 8th place prediction.

Dragons:

In: Will Rowlands from Wasps, Evan Lloyd promoted from Academy, Mesake Doge, Aki Seiuli

Out: Lewis Evans, Matthew Screech, Arwel Robson, Connor Edwards, Ed Scragg, Carwyn Penny, Luke Baldwin, Joe Goodchild, Brok Harris, Rhys Lawrence, Deon Smith,  Dafydd Howells, Ryan Bevington, Tom Griffiths to Coventry (season-long loan),

Comments: Screech was playing well last season but I think Rowlands will be a great signing and a improvement on what we have.  Harris was key for us as well last term but Ryan hasn't finished recruitment yet so potentially will see me adding to this list at a later date.

Prediction: 12th.  I'd love to see us be further up the table and maybe depending on our home form this would be possible.  That said I think the top teams have all recruited and improved as well so it's hard to place us higher.  So I think we may still be 4th placed welsh region unless Ryan really pulls of some more great signings.  Given our budget compared to the other welsh regions though the odds are stacked against us.

Glasgow

In: Duncan Weir from Worcester, Jamie Bhatti from Bath, Ross Thompson promoted from Academy, Simon Berghan from Edinburgh, Lewis Bean from Northampton, Jack Dempsey from NSW Waratahs, Josh McKay from Crusaders, Ollie Smith promoted from Academy, Sione Tuipulotu from Yamaha Júbilo, Ally Miller from Edinburgh, Domingo Miotti from Western Force, Sebastián Cancelliere from Jaguares XV, Tom Lambert promoted from Academy

Out: Adam Hastings, Chris Fusaro, Fotu Lokotui, Nikola Matawalu, D'Arcy Rae, Mesu Dolokoto, Dylan Evans, TJ Ioane, Lee Jones, Ian Keatley, Paddy Kelly, Robbie Nairn, Aki Seiuli, George Thornton, Leone Nakarawa, Huw Jones, Alex Allan

Comments: Lots of movement going on from Glasgow for next season.  Hastings will be a loss to them but they have recruited well at 10 edging their bets on bringing both Weir and Miotti into the side.  Nakarawa and Matawalu never really came back at their second stints and played at the same level as the first time at Glasgow.  So probably was wise to cut them.  Some of the signings are unknown as of yet so will be interesting to see how Tuipulotu goes for them as a replacement for Huw Jones.  That said Dempsey is a quality signing and they have added serious bulk to their pack as well.

Prediction: 4th.  Major advantage over every other nation with playing the Italians twice.  I also think they will be the top of the Scottish sides.  All round though just looking at their recruitment, they will be a major threat I think.  Not enough to worry Leinster or Munster but everyone else in the league for sure. I'd be very surprised at this stage if they didn't end up in the top 4.

Edinburgh

In: James Lang from Harlequins, Glen Young from Harlequins, Ben Vellacott from Wasps, Luan de Bruin from Leicester, Adam McBurney from Ulster, Pierce Phillips from Agen, Henry Immelman from Montpellier, Cameron Hutchison from Heriot's, Ben Muncaster promoted from Acedamy, Nathan Chamberlain promoted from Academy, Emiliano Boffelli, Ramiro Moyano

Out: Duhan van der Merwe, Andrew Davidson, Simon Berghan, Ally Miller, Mike Willemse, Jamie Farndale, Murray McCallum, Dan Nutton, Eroni Sau, Lewis Carmichael, Rory Sutherland, Kyle Rowe, Andries Ferreira, Charlie Jupp, Scott King, Shaun Gunn Jack Mann

Comments:  van der Merwe and Rory Sutherland are big losses for Edinburgh.  Signings look a bit underwhelming although Immelman could be a good addition.  Cockerill has managed to make Edinburgh play above their ability in the past though so I don't expect them to be a roll over for any side as they tend to graft hard and the forwards will supply them with ball.  

Prediction: 9th.  I can't see them placing above most of the others in this list.  I still have them better than the Dragons and Connacht thought as they do have an advantage with 2 Italian sides in their pool so that is a major plus for them.  But the top 8 sides i'm predicting simply have better players which can't be understated. With Cockerill leaving and Mike Blair coming in things have changed...I'm not convinced that they can finish 9th.  They have picked up some good Argentinian backs but I fear Blair may be a little inexperienced at this level.

I'll post the second half of teams as a follow up post....


Last edited by Welshmushroom on Fri 27 Aug 2021, 12:46 pm; edited 9 times in total

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Post by PhilBB Fri 30 Jul 2021, 11:58 am

Brendan wrote:
Not really that hard.  Don't know the Prem and T14 fixtures but top 3 in the Prem will be Sarries, Exeter, and Bristol., T14 will most likely be Toulouse, La Rochelle and either Racing or Bordeaux. Good teams rise to the top because of their squad rather than their star players.

It's not like Zebre or Leinster are going to move massively because of the fixture lists. The middle will be tight and I am sure every team will get good and bad fixtures that even themselves out.  Is it better to play Munster the week before a champions cup knockout game or the week after an international, people will view it differently.

Not really that hard? Are you having a laugh? In this post https://www.606v2.com/t70212p350-better-for-everyone-the-sa-teams-will-mean-bigger-tougher-games#3990654 you highlighted how the fall of the fixtures are key to league positions.
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Post by Brendan Fri 30 Jul 2021, 10:37 pm

PhilBB wrote:
Brendan wrote:
Not really that hard.  Don't know the Prem and T14 fixtures but top 3 in the Prem will be Sarries, Exeter, and Bristol., T14 will most likely be Toulouse, La Rochelle and either Racing or Bordeaux. Good teams rise to the top because of their squad rather than their star players.

It's not like Zebre or Leinster are going to move massively because of the fixture lists. The middle will be tight and I am sure every team will get good and bad fixtures that even themselves out.  Is it better to play Munster the week before a champions cup knockout game or the week after an international, people will view it differently.

Not really that hard? Are you having a laugh? In this post https://www.606v2.com/t70212p350-better-for-everyone-the-sa-teams-will-mean-bigger-tougher-games#3990654 you highlighted how the fall of the fixtures are key to league positions.

So me saying Connacht won half their games and finished 4th and if the SA teams can win their home games and pick up some away points is understood by you as being about the fixtures.

Not sure how you got that. If a team isn't looking to win all their home games they have already settled for not making the playoffs.

When the fixtures come out I look forward to your in depth analysis of how each round and is affecting each team and who is the teams in the playoffs because of it.

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Post by profitius Thu 05 Aug 2021, 10:26 am

Brendan wrote:
PhilBB wrote:
Brendan wrote:
Not really that hard.  Don't know the Prem and T14 fixtures but top 3 in the Prem will be Sarries, Exeter, and Bristol., T14 will most likely be Toulouse, La Rochelle and either Racing or Bordeaux. Good teams rise to the top because of their squad rather than their star players.

It's not like Zebre or Leinster are going to move massively because of the fixture lists. The middle will be tight and I am sure every team will get good and bad fixtures that even themselves out.  Is it better to play Munster the week before a champions cup knockout game or the week after an international, people will view it differently.

Not really that hard? Are you having a laugh? In this post https://www.606v2.com/t70212p350-better-for-everyone-the-sa-teams-will-mean-bigger-tougher-games#3990654 you highlighted how the fall of the fixtures are key to league positions.

So me saying Connacht won half their games and finished 4th and if the SA teams can win their home games and pick up some away points is understood by you as being about the fixtures.

Not sure how you got that.  If a team isn't looking to win all their home games they have already settled for not making the playoffs.

When the fixtures come out I look forward to your in depth analysis of how each round and is affecting each team and who is the teams in the playoffs because of it.


I'd like to hear that analysis too.
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Post by PhilBB Tue 10 Aug 2021, 3:18 pm

Brendan wrote:

So me saying Connacht won half their games and finished 4th and if the SA teams can win their home games and pick up some away points is understood by you as being about the fixtures.

Not sure how you got that.  If a team isn't looking to win all their home games they have already settled for not making the playoffs.

When the fixtures come out I look forward to your in depth analysis of how each round and is affecting each team and who is the teams in the playoffs because of it.

How on earth can't it be about the fixtures when you've mentioned the actual games?!?!?!?!?!

Jesus wept, man.
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Post by PhilBB Tue 10 Aug 2021, 3:19 pm

profitius wrote:

I'd like to hear that analysis too.

You may have to read it instead, mate.

In the meantime, riddle me this: is it easier to play Leinster in Dublin on October 30th or October 16th.
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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 27 Aug 2021, 2:14 pm

updated for the latest transfers.

Think my Edinburgh predictions looks off now Cockerill has left.

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Post by Hazel Sapling Fri 27 Aug 2021, 2:51 pm

What has been ignored with Cockerill leaving is that Teflon Hodge has also left the club. He is the attack coach that has ignored the backs for the last 9 years to the point of a player revolt if memory serves.

Blair has been coaching for a few years now in the Glasgow and Scotland set-ups and should be an upgrade as a backs/attack coach. It is whether he can build up the young talent in the squad that will determine how this season goes. There is hope he can be what Townsend was for Glasgow around 2013 when the next evolution of playing style was needed. On paper it is still a strong squad.


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Post by Brendan Fri 27 Aug 2021, 6:08 pm

With the fixtures out I am curious to hear people's views.

Sharks first 3 games are all away v Munster, Glasgow and Ospreys.  That is some welcome to the league.

Lions and Stromers play Zebre and Benetton. Losing badly in those two games could continue the worry many fans have especially for the Lions as that is their easiest away game by far.

Bulls will get a good test v Connacht in their second game.  Connacht will run it and it will be a good test to see if they have learned from the Rainbow Cup final.  If they look as clueless as the final Connacht will score big.

Can't wait for the games to get going.

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Post by Old Man Fri 27 Aug 2021, 6:34 pm

When are the first fixtures?

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Post by profitius Fri 27 Aug 2021, 7:02 pm

Old Man wrote:When are the first fixtures?


24th sep
https://www.unitedrugby.com/match-centre

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Post by Old Man Fri 27 Aug 2021, 7:30 pm

Thanks, so the SA teams are going to go to Europe without their Boks. That is going to be seriously tough for them.

Geez, start your season away from home with second stringers, going to be an uphill battle with such a start


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Post by Brendan Fri 27 Aug 2021, 9:13 pm

Old Man wrote:Thanks, so the SA teams are going to go to Europe without their Boks. That is going to be seriously tough for them.

Geez, start your season away from home with second stringers, going to be an uphill battle with such a start


Good old covid.

Under normally rules they would have been back for round 2, but because of bubbles the Bok bubble can't release players. Playing away allows the SA teams a better chance of getting fans in as the vaccines get rolled out.

I hope Bulls v Munster gets fans but not sure it will look great if there isn't any atmosphere.

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Post by The Oracle Sat 28 Aug 2021, 6:55 pm

BBC Wales and S4C TV to show 75% of Welsh team games live. Cool 😎:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/58346264
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Post by RiscaGame Sun 29 Aug 2021, 12:32 pm

Fair play, that’s more than expected.

I’ll have to look whether there’s any value to premier now, as in how many Dragons games would I miss without it and not attending.

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Post by BigGee Sun 29 Aug 2021, 12:53 pm

The financing of the tv deals must be amazingly complicated and you do wonder how PS can be making any money if lots of fans bail out if they can watch their teams for free.

You can only conclude that they have not paid very much for the rest of the rights.

You do wonder what effect that might have on the quality of their production as well, though it is fair to say that the regional broadcasters don't break the bank on that either.

We still have still not cracked the tv coverage of the league and hence we are not maximising the income compared to France and England. The only way to do thst, i imagine, will be an exclusive deal with one of the big boys at some stage in the future. That may eventually hsppen i guess if the quality of the league, as hoped, picks up with the addition of the SA teams.

At a tenner a month, with French rugby thriwn in as well these days, PS still rrmains good value and for us jocks, remains the only wsy to watch our teams.

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Post by profitius Tue 31 Aug 2021, 2:39 pm

BigGee wrote:The financing of the tv deals must be amazingly complicated and you do wonder how PS can be making any money if lots of fans bail out if they can watch their teams for free.

You can only conclude that they have not paid very much for the rest of the rights.

You do wonder what effect that might have on the quality of their production as well, though it is fair to say that the regional broadcasters don't break the bank on that either.

We still have still not cracked the tv coverage of the league and hence we are not maximising the income compared to France and England. The only way to do thst, i imagine, will be an exclusive deal with one of the big boys at some stage in the future. That may eventually hsppen i guess if the quality of the league, as hoped, picks up with the addition of the SA teams.

At a tenner a month, with French rugby thriwn in as well these days, PS still rrmains good value and for us jocks, remains the only wsy to watch our teams.


They have the balance right I think. Mst games are on free to air while some are behind a paywall. Having it free to air promotes the game which has more long term benefits.
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Post by Welshmushroom Mon 06 Sep 2021, 1:27 pm

Looking at the early rounds I think the draw might be good for South African sides. They have a lot of away games to start and with all due respect no one would be heading to Ireland and expecting wins over there. If it does happen its a bonus so very much a nothing to lose venture.

It gives them plenty of games to get used to the intensity of the league and by the time a bulk of the home games arrive they should be in a good spot with home advantage to win a fair few of them.

Draw looks good for Leinster (5 home games out of first 7) with only the Dragons and Glasgow away from home. By the time the Glasgow come around they probably have quite a few points on the board putting the pressure firmly on Glasgow to win the game. Not sure they needed the additional fixture help but I suppose it could work out the other way as well if they don't end up winning as many game at the RDS but stats will suggest that is unlikely.

Scarlets have got a bit of a frustrating draw. To get Leinster, Ulster, Sharks, Bulls away is a bit of a slanted draw. Granted next season assuming fixtures are reversed will be a better draw for them. They will need to start well at home as they have 4 away in the opening 7 rounds so the Munster at home game will already potentially be a must win game for them if they are aiming for top 4 this season.

Elsewhere Cardiff, Ospreys, Ulster look to all have strong starts and would probably put them up there with Leinster into the top 4 up to round 7. I do expect other sides to catch up in later rounds though.

From a Dragons perspective, we got a really though start. Ospreys and Leinster at home first up isn't great. I'd rather have got those ones later in the year once the cobwebs have been blown off. No doubt both sides will be coming fully loaded to take points off us here. Hopefully we can pull some great performances out.

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Post by Brendan Wed 08 Sep 2021, 12:35 pm

Has anyone seen the odds for the URC. I'm not a betting man so may be not looking in the right place. I can find odds on Prem and T14.

I am just curious how the bookies are rating the SAs chances.

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Post by RiscaGame Wed 08 Sep 2021, 11:32 pm

Betfair aren’t offering odds yet. They can’t be recognising it as a competition;)

Dragons are 100/1 for the challenge cup though, so that’s worth £100 on it.

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Post by Brendan Thu 09 Sep 2021, 10:31 am

RiscaGame wrote:Betfair aren’t offering odds yet. They can’t be recognising it as a competition;)

Dragons are 100/1 for the challenge cup though, so that’s worth £100 on it.

I had looked on a couple but there was none. I wonder if the bookies don't want to lose on it in case they under rate the SA sides.

Challange will be all about Sarries and everyone else avoiding them.

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Post by Welshmushroom Thu 09 Sep 2021, 12:41 pm

I really hope the Dragons don't focus on the challenge cup. I wouldn't be to bothered if we don't make the top 8 in the pool stages given that the bottom 8 from the HC will be added to a last 16 2 leg playoff.

If Ryan wants a great run in the league he can't really afford to roll out his best players for Europe. The best chance Dragons have to really make a mark in the league is target the matches against sides that might be tempted to rest players prior to Europe.

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Post by Welshmushroom Thu 09 Sep 2021, 1:01 pm

I can't help but think this season may turn out not so well for S.African sides.  The main reason looking at the schedule between Sept 21 and June 21 they really have a lot of rest brakes considering they are not in either European competitions.  Granted this will sort itself next season when they do qualify.

The other thing is there are not many of their players involved in the national side which means a bulk of their first teams players will just end up with fallow weekends.

They have 2 month periods off before 7th Jan.  That's followed by double weekend off in mid Jan.  Now this might not be a bad thing as I suspect the opening 4 away fixtures will probably be losses given the opposition which then essentially gives them a proper preseason right afterwards to get up to speed for the bulk of their home games that follow.  

Now granted with a limited amount of games for the exact same reason they could do extremely well given players will be rested but I just think the other sides who start hitting form will have matches to keep carrying that confidence into consecutive weekends.  

Going to be really interesting to see how it all plays out.

What it does show is how weird Europe is this season.  Any side in the HC automatically will get 6 games regardless of pool finish (bottom 8 will be added to the Challenge Cup last 16 2 leg format).

Whereas Challenge Cup sides will only get 4 games for certain.  It does go up to 6 if they can qualify for the last 16.

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Post by Old Man Thu 09 Sep 2021, 1:12 pm

It is really only the Lions that don't have any Springbok players, but they will be crap this season anyway.

Sharks have around 8 players in the Springbok squad, Bulls around 5 and Stormers around 7.

There are also talks by Jake White with Bismarck du Plessis

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Post by RiscaGame Thu 09 Sep 2021, 1:20 pm

Welshmushroom wrote:I really hope the Dragons don't focus on the challenge cup. I wouldn't be to bothered if we don't make the top 8 in the pool stages given that the bottom 8 from the HC will be added to a last 16 2 leg playoff.  

If Ryan wants a great run in the league he can't really afford to roll out his best players for Europe.  The best chance Dragons have to really make a mark in the league is target the matches against sides that might be tempted to rest players prior to Europe.

I can’t see it happening. The challenge cup should be used for development now, with things like the Benjamin hooker experiment trialled more there. Ryan will know the league and particularly the derbies are what the supporters will want to do well in.

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Post by Welshmushroom Thu 09 Sep 2021, 1:32 pm

I hope so Risca. The only problem I see happening is what happens if they accidentally qualify for the last 16 etc.

French sides in the challenge cup in the previous couple of seasons have basically been sending our 3rd string sides as they totally focus on not getting relegated out of the Top14.

That may result in us sending out a second string and still qualifying for knockout rugby which if I'm honest hope doesn't end up happening. I'm hoping both Toulon and Lyon take this seriously. Even then though we need every other side in the challenge cup to play for qualification assuming Zebre will take a bottom 5 out of 6 spot along with Brieve, Perpignan, Pau, and Biarritz.


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Post by Welshmushroom Thu 09 Sep 2021, 1:38 pm

Old Man wrote:It is really only the Lions that don't have any Springbok players, but they will be crap this season anyway.

Sharks have around 8 players in the Springbok squad, Bulls around 5 and Stormers around 7.

There are also talks by Jake White with Bismarck du Plessis

I thought that was primarily because of the massive covid bubble around the Rugby Championship. I can't see them calling that bigger squad for travelling abroad and even if they did would probably be made largely of European based players because they won't have to deal with quite the same Covid restrictions.

It does highlight the need for SA to start bringing some of their star names home though. I really hope if the URC takes off and the extra funds all the sides get helps SA bring a large quantity of players home. That I think in turn would only strengthen the URC in the long term.

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Post by Old Man Thu 09 Sep 2021, 2:47 pm

Welshmushroom wrote:
Old Man wrote:It is really only the Lions that don't have any Springbok players, but they will be crap this season anyway.

Sharks have around 8 players in the Springbok squad, Bulls around 5 and Stormers around 7.

There are also talks by Jake White with Bismarck du Plessis

I thought that was primarily because of the massive covid bubble around the Rugby Championship.  I can't see them calling that bigger squad for travelling abroad and even if they did would probably be made largely of European based players because they won't have to deal with quite the same Covid restrictions.

It does highlight the need for SA to start bringing some of their star names home though.  I really hope if the URC takes off and the extra funds all the sides get helps SA bring a large quantity of players home.  That I think in turn would only strengthen the URC in the long term.

I would think that is the goal.

Sharks and Bulls have started the trend though. With Johan Goosen, Duane Vermeulen, Jacques du Plessis and Bismarck du Plessis

Sharks have a few, and news this week is Ruan Pienaar is going on loan to the Sharks as well.

Hopefully it is a sign of things to come

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Post by Welshmushroom Thu 09 Sep 2021, 3:01 pm

News is reporting that the Stormers may get kicked out due to financial issues and be replaced by Cheetahs.

Hopefully this doesn't turn out to be true.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/united-rugby-championship-stormers-debt-24943700

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Post by Old Man Thu 09 Sep 2021, 3:09 pm

Interesting

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Post by Brendan Thu 09 Sep 2021, 11:33 pm

Can't see the Stormers getting kicked out but it is interesting to see the SARU using that stick to get them to sort themselves out.

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Post by Brendan Fri 10 Sep 2021, 12:18 am

Regarding the SA sides few teams will have a back three the level of Mapimpi, Nkosi and Fassi of the Sharks add in Am and their backs look as good as Leinster.

I think the biggest challenge for them will be how they play the conditions and the teams.  They all played against SR teams and have played in different conditions but I think if the Bulls second games against Connacht is windy it will be a culture shock and each week will be different.  I also don't know how the SA players will deal with the smaller stadiums with the fans close to the pitch. I also think the SA teams will find the URC much more varied styles in than SR and I don't think the SA teams will be able to adapt from game to game away from home.

If you look at the Bulls who first week play a team like Leinster who will look to bully the breakdown and then play Connacht who look to avoid the breakdown.  I don't know how White will get his players to adapt.  Sharks face the same with Munster and Glasgow.  My fear for the SA teams is they will learn from the previous game but then not be able to see that the opposition has changed.  So in round two they might focus on breakdown and set piece and keeping a tight defence only to find that Connacht and Glasgow spread it wide and offload in the tackle.

I hope I'm wrong.  The Pro12 teams faced a similar problem the first year with the Cheetahs and Kings.  They weren't use to teams who went 0 to 100 so fast and would run it from anywhere.  In Europe they bullied them but in SA they found it hard to adapt their game to negate the speedster.  By season 3 they had learned to be more mobile in attack and defence but it took time.

For any team to make the playoffs they need 8 wins probably.  Sharks and Bulls should pick up 4 in the Derbies leaving them 4 to pick up which should be 3 home and 1 away.  For these two teams the focus year 1 is Champions Cup quailification and a strong finish, which the home games with packed large stadiums should provide.  Stormers and Lions I think finishing 12th could be seen as a success given their struggles.

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Post by Old Man Fri 10 Sep 2021, 5:32 am

You also need to consider the Cheetahs and Kings did not have the quality of players the Four Super Rugby teams had at the time, it was very mucu the left overs.

Granted the domestic game in SA has taken a hit with so many of theirntop players playing overseas now

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Post by The Oracle Fri 10 Sep 2021, 9:13 am

Brendan wrote:Regarding the SA sides few teams will have a back three the level of Mapimpi, Nkosi and Fassi of the Sharks add in Am and their backs look as good as Leinster.

I think the biggest challenge for them will be how they play the conditions and the teams.  They all played against SR teams and have played in different conditions but I think if the Bulls second games against Connacht is windy it will be a culture shock and each week will be different.  I also don't know how the SA players will deal with the smaller stadiums with the fans close to the pitch. I also think the SA teams will find the URC much more varied styles in than SR and I don't think the SA teams will be able to adapt from game to game away from home.

If you look at the Bulls who first week play a team like Leinster who will look to bully the breakdown and then play Connacht who look to avoid the breakdown.  I don't know how White will get his players to adapt.  Sharks face the same with Munster and Glasgow.  My fear for the SA teams is they will learn from the previous game but then not be able to see that the opposition has changed.  So in round two they might focus on breakdown and set piece and keeping a tight defence only to find that Connacht and Glasgow spread it wide and offload in the tackle.

I hope I'm wrong.  The Pro12 teams faced a similar problem the first year with the Cheetahs and Kings.  They weren't use to teams who went 0 to 100 so fast and would run it from anywhere.  In Europe they bullied them but in SA they found it hard to adapt their game to negate the speedster.  By season 3 they had learned to be more mobile in attack and defence but it took time.

For any team to make the playoffs they need 8 wins probably.  Sharks and Bulls should pick up 4 in the Derbies leaving them 4 to pick up which should be 3 home and 1 away.  For these two teams the focus year 1 is Champions Cup quailification and a strong finish, which the home games with packed large stadiums should provide.  Stormers and Lions I think finishing 12th could be seen as a success given their struggles.

They'll adapt soon enough.  They're a nation of awesome rugby players.  Those SA players who take up contracts in Europe seem to do well enough!  Pretty much every team up North has had at least one South African stalwart/legend/cult hero.  It's still rugby they're playing, after all.  Just might take a few goes to get used to the mud and cold!
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Post by LordDowlais Fri 10 Sep 2021, 11:07 am

It looks as though the Stormers could be booted out of the URC before it has even started and be replaced by the Cheetahs according to reports on line:-

https://rugby365.com/countries/south-africa/saru-ultimatum-has-wprfu-scrambling/

SARU ULTIMATUM HAS WPRFU SCRAMBLING


NEWS: There was a flutter of excitement in Bloemfontein and a rush of anxiety in Cape Town this week, as the South African Rugby Union gave the Western Province Rugby Football Union an ultimatum to ‘get their house in order’.

@rugby365com can reveal that SARU President Mark Alexander made a direct call to WPRFU boss Zelt Marais over the protracted financial controversies and infighting at the Cape Town union.

Alexander, in no uncertain terms, warned Marais that his franchise will be replaced by the Cheetahs in the United Rugby Championship if the firestorms are not put out.

Given that the URC is set to get underway a fortnight from now, it caused a major stir in both Bloemfontein and Cape Town.

It is not clear what the deadline is for when Marais to deliver on the verbal guarantees he gave Alexander, but the threat of SARU escalating the matter to the level of excluding the Stormers from international competitions will see a number of ’emergency meetings’ in the days to come.

Alexander’s call followed the fractious and often chaotic last few weeks in the WPRFU, in which the union President, Marais, came under fire for acting in direct conflict to the instructions of a WPRFU/SA Rugby advisory committee on which he serves.

Marais caused a stir when he put forward Anicra (Pty) Ltd as a legitimate alternative option to the SARU-preferred Staytus to solve the union’s ongoing financial crisis.

As @rugby365com reported, SARU has since withdrawn from and ended the existence of the WPRFU/SARU Advisory Committee.

The six-man WPRFU/SA Rugby advisory committee consisted of Marais, Patrick Kuhn (chairman), Samuel Ngumeni, Abubakar Saban, Ebrahim Rasool (Western Province Professional Rugby (Pty) Ltd) and Colin Moses.

SARU Chief Executive Officer Jurie Roux made it clear the national body will not hesitate to invoke clause 28 of the constitution.

This was followed by Alexander’s call and the ultimatum to Marais to put his union’s house in order.

That was not the only significant development involving the Cheetahs this week, as they seek to find a way into an international competition for their players.

The Cheetahs, who featured in the Pro14 for two years after being kicked out of Super Rugby, also lost their place in Europe when the SA Rugby decided to quit Super Rugby and move to the Northern Hemisphere.

The Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers were given the four South African slots in the URC.

However, some of the Cheetahs’ players will feature in the URC as part of a new deal.

It was revealed on Wednesday that the Cheetahs and Sharks have signed a cooperation agreement to exchange players and to support each other on a broader front.

“This step benefits both teams in terms of their game and financially and that the move is also in the broader interests of South African rugby,” a joint statement by the two franchises said.

“The Cheetahs and Sharks will make some of their players available to each other on request and when competitions do not overlap.

“The Sharks will also provide players to the Cheetahs.

“Some of them could even be made available for the 2022 Currie Cup competition.”

In one of the first exchanges Cheetah scrumhalf and captain Ruan Pienaar, along with utility back Tian Meyer (also a regular at No.9) will be joining the Sharks on short-term deals.

Meyer will be available for the URC outbound tour and will then return to the Cheetahs.

With Springbok selection and injuries ruling out three of the Sharks scrumhalves, Pienaar will be involved for a longer period in the competition and his invaluable experience and knowledge of the Irish playing conditions will be hugely beneficial and a great boost to the Sharks prospects in Europe.

Pienaar says he is looking forward to a final tour of Ireland, but Bloemfontein and the Cheetahs will remain his home.

This is where he wants to wind up his career over the next two seasons.

In return, the Sharks will make some of their players available on loan to the Cheetahs for international and Currie Cup games that the Cheetahs are preparing for.

The cooperation agreement will be broader than just the exchange of players.

“Both teams will benefit financially,” the statement said.

“As they will not always be playing in the same competitions, they will be able to support each other in times of need and pressure.”

For the Cheetahs this agreement is not something new.

The Cheetahs have had such agreements with the neighbouring Griffons and Griquas, as well as Verblitz in Japan.


Never a dull moment with our league is it ? Very Happy

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Post by Old Man Fri 10 Sep 2021, 11:19 am

In other news, Bulls have confirmed the signing of Bismarck du Plessis

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Post by LordDowlais Fri 10 Sep 2021, 11:44 am

Old Man wrote:In other news, Bulls have confirmed the signing of Bismarck du Plessis

Do you have any inside info on the Stormers Old Man ?

I didn't realise they were in a mess. Be a shame not to have them in the league.

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Post by Old Man Fri 10 Sep 2021, 11:55 am

They had severe financial issues couple of years back, I don't have all the details.

They liquidated WP rugby in 2016, there is confusion over whether they were going to sell Newland, but then there were rumours they didn't hve general council approval to sell Newlands, then Remgro loaned them 40 million and were going to make an investment in WP, but then they pulled out as they did a feasibility study.

Then there were talks of MVM buying a 50% share in WP, then after some time going by, WP refused the offer which sent MVM holdings to buy 51% of the Sharks.

More than that I don't know.

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Post by Brendan Sat 11 Sep 2021, 8:22 pm

After the big win for the Bulls today less worried about the open game v the Sharks as the Bulls defence was very good at stopping their attack (less the Boks players).  I would hope Munster Defence will be as organised.

Bulls really are head and shoulders above the other SA teams.  I know the WP coach last week said he felt the Bulls could have played better but played as good as they needed to to win.

Can't wait for two weeks time to see the teams actually play.

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Post by Old Man Sun 12 Sep 2021, 5:05 am

Yeah, Bulls looked very good last night.

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Post by Welshmushroom Mon 13 Sep 2021, 11:00 am

Speaking of sides looking good Leinster and the other Irish sides have looked extremely good in the friendlies (except connacht).

That already worries me slightly. Our Welsh sides look a little under cooked going into the first round. Granted you can't read much into friendlies but they still looked quite rusty this weekend. They will need to improve a lot based on what I saw from the Irish, if were going to give them an arm wrestle this season.

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Post by Brendan Tue 14 Sep 2021, 7:29 pm

Munster not getting the first friendly might be bad for Munster but I think the one against Exeter should have brushed aside some rustiness.

If you take Ulster as an example they lost 21-45 at home but won 33-3 away in their two games v Sarries. But I supposes it's better to win than not.

Ulster have a nice run of games in the opening 5 rounds and will be looking to lay down a marker v Glasgow. Like Munster and Leinster Ulster must win all their home games against the big teams in case (which they all will) drop more points in the derbies. After Glasgow they could be looking for 4 BP wins.

Only two weeks to go.

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Post by Brendan Wed 15 Sep 2021, 10:05 am

1st. Leinster - 4/7
2nd. Munster - 7/2
3rd. Ulster - 13/2
4th. Bulls - 25/1
5th. Scarlets - 25/1
6th. Edinburgh - 25/1
7th. Glasgow Warriors - 33/1
8th. Sharks - 50/1
9th. Stormers - 80/1
10th. Connacht - 100/1
11th. Cardiff - 100/1
12th. Ospreys - 150/1
13th. Dragons - 200/1
14th. Benetton - 200/1
15th. Lions - 200/1
16th. Zebre - 500/1

Here are the odds from WOL
Ospreys seems way under priced. With the players they have and the improvements made it seems good odds if you want an outside bet.
Edinburgh seems a fair bit to high in the other direction.

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Post by RiscaGame Wed 15 Sep 2021, 12:50 pm

I would probably have expected Dragons below Benetton, to be honest. Guess they’re trying to show a clear difference between the four at 200s and Zebre.

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Post by Welshmushroom Yesterday at 10:59 am

Those odds on the Ospreys are insane.....especially when your giving 25 - 1 on the Scarlets. Going to have to take a punt on 150-1. Worth a tenner bet in my eyes.

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Post by Old Man Yesterday at 11:41 am

Duane Verneulen is leaving the Bulls, he is joining ulster

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Post by The Oracle Yesterday at 12:03 pm

One of the things I wondered when it was announced that the SA sides were joining the Pro 14, was whether it would actually lead to more SA players leaving SA sides and joining some of the other sides in the league. The hope was the opposite would happen and SA players would return home. Not sure of the reasons for him moving to Ulster, and I have no idea what sort of salary the Bulls were paying Vermeulen, but if Ulster can afford to pay more than the Bulls why would a player play in the same league for less money?! The draw of home is about the only advantage I can think of as SA is happy to pick players playing overseas. And at least with the URC they are still in the shop window for the SA selectors as they’ll now be facing SA sides. So maybe Vermeulen thought I can do the same job in the same league for double the money if I move the Ulster?
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Post by Old Man Yesterday at 12:34 pm

Of course he did.

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Post by Welshmushroom Yesterday at 1:21 pm

Bit of a gamble by Ulster. He's 35 and you signed him on a 2 year contract. I generally can't think of many players that age who turn out to be a good return at club level. He may be in great condition but it's still a gamble.

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Post by Brendan Yesterday at 2:46 pm

We can't expect SA to keep players the first year. They have no fans for the last 18 months and while it is hoped they get them soon it can't be guaranteed which is a big loss of income. Hopefully in the next season or two wage Caps go up but I do think the SARU a right to keep it the first year.

If they can't keep more players in 3-4 years then there is a problem. Part of it is down the URC attendances for the SA teams. Ulster with there 15k for home games make signings like this possible.

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Post by geoff999rugby Yesterday at 3:30 pm

A few points re Vermeulen  and Coetzee

Vermeulen is on a slightly lower salary than Coetzee was at Ulster
He has not only been signed as a player but also to help younger player develop their game
Notably Timoney, Rea jnr and McCann

this is in part because senior player at Ulster took between 10% to 20% salary cuts due to finances being squeezed during Covid.
I suspect we were not the only ones

Lastly unless you believe Coetzee voluntarily gave up a high salary for a lower one (he still had 1 year to run on his Ulster contract) ,the idea that Bulls lost out in some way because of a disparity in wages doesn't wash;
at least with respect to these 2 transactions

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