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URC Round 18 (Final reg season round)

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Post by neilthom7 Tue 17 May 2022, 7:22 pm

So it's the last round of the regular URC season and there is tonnes to play for which should make this an exciting gameweek.

Leinster have Locked in top spot and so will have a home run right the way through the play offs should they get that far.

Munster, Sharks, Stormers and Ulster are all fighting it out for 2nd spot which would give them home advantage in the quarter and Semi finals should they reach them. Those teams along with the Bulls are also all fighting to finish in top 4 which would give them a home quarter final.

Edinburgh and Glasgow are guaranteed to finish in top 8 but cannot get into top 4 so will be away throughout the playoffs.  They also are fighting to finish in top 7 to get Champions Cup rugby next season.

Ospreys and Scarlets are both fighting it out to be the highest placed Welsh side and get Champions Cup rugby for next season.

All games will be shown on Premier Sports, URC TV and SuperSport

Friday 20th May 2022

Benetton v Cardiff Rugby- Stadio Monigo, Treviso – KO 18.00 IRE & UK / 19.00 ITA & SA
Referee: Eoghan Cross (IRFU, league debut)
Live on: Mediaset, S4C

Ulster v Cell C Sharks- Kingspan Stadium, Belfast – KO 19.35  IRE & UK / 20.35 ITA & SA
Referee: Ben Blain (SRU)
Live on: BBC NI, TG4

Ospreys v Vodacom Bulls- Swansea.com Stadium, Swansea – KO 20.10 IRE & UK / 21.10 ITA & SA
Referee: Chris Busby (IRFU)
Live on: BBC Wales

Saturday 21st May 2022

Dragons v Emirates Lions- Rodney Parade, Newport – KO 15.00  IRE & UK / 16.00 ITA & SA
Referee: Joy Neville (IRFU)
Live on: S4C

Connacht v Zebre Parma- The Sportsground, Galway – KO 17.00 IRE & UK / 18.00 ITA & SA
Referee: Adam Jones (WRU)
Live on: RTÉ 2, Mediaset

Scarlets v DHL Stormers- Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli – KO 17.10 IRE & UK / 18.10 ITA & SA
Referee: Sam Grove-White (SRU)
Live on: S4C

Edinburgh Rugby v Glasgow Warriors- BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh – KO 18.30 IRE & UK / 19.30 ITA & SA
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU, 78 th league game)

Leinster v Munster- Aviva Stadium, Dublin – KO 19.15 IRE & UK / 20.15 ITA & SA
Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)
Live on: TG4


Last edited by neilthom7 on Tue 17 May 2022, 7:28 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by neilthom7 Tue 17 May 2022, 7:26 pm

So from that lot Ulster v Sharks is big, essentially it is a play off game to see which of them finishes in top 4 and either could also make top 2 with the right other results.

Leinster v Munster is interesting, Munster will be pushing for 2nd spot and Leinster have already qualified on top, you would think Leinster will field a weakened team given their recent European games and the play offs coming up.

Edinburgh v Glasgow a straight shoot out for Champions Cup rugby.

Scarlets and Ospreys both with tricky home ties v Top 2/4 chasing South African teams to see who takes Wales Champions Cup spot.

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Post by Oakdene Wed 18 May 2022, 8:11 am

Yep think it will come down to whichever one of us or the Ospreys pick up the most bonus points as I can't see either beating the team they are playing against.

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Post by neilthom7 Wed 18 May 2022, 6:52 pm

From an Ulster perspective we could use both those welsh teams winning as we need that to happen so we could finish second,

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Post by RiscaGame Thu 19 May 2022, 9:25 am

My Dragons, your Dragons, our Dragons are going to finally break their home losing record. Dean Ryan is a genius.

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 19 May 2022, 10:45 am

neilthom7 wrote:From an Ulster perspective we could use both those welsh teams winning as we need that to happen so we could finish second,

The Ospreys - Bulls game is irrelevant to Ulster

If Ulster win they will be above the Bulls regardless, if Ulster lose they will, baring a statistical freak be out of the top 4, let alone the top 2

The key wins needed for Ulster are:
Leinster against Munster
Scarlets against the Stormers

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Post by neilthom7 Thu 19 May 2022, 7:53 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:
neilthom7 wrote:From an Ulster perspective we could use both those welsh teams winning as we need that to happen so we could finish second,

The Ospreys - Bulls game is irrelevant to Ulster

If Ulster win they will be above the Bulls regardless, if Ulster lose they will, baring a statistical freak be out of the top 4, let alone the top 2

The key wins needed for Ulster are:
Leinster against Munster
Scarlets against the Stormers

That Leinster team announcement tomorrow will be interesting, if they go weak then Munster will have a great chance to finish 2nd.

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Post by thebandwagonsociety Fri 20 May 2022, 4:46 pm

Leinster Rugby team to face Munster (appearances in brackets):

15. Jordan Larmour (71)
14. Rob Russell (4)
13. Jamie Osborne (19)
12. Ciarán Frawley (53)
11. Rory O’Loughlin (96)
10. Harry Byrne (34)
9. Cormac Foley (4)

1. Ed Byrne (84) CAPTAIN
2. Seán Cronin (204)
3. Thomas Clarkson (17)
4. Joe McCarthy (7)
5. Josh Murphy (60)
6. Ryan Baird (36)
7. Scott Penny (40)
8. Max Deegan (83)

Replacements:

16. John McKee (2)
17. Peter Dooley (103)
18. Cian Healy (245)
19. Devin Toner (279)
20. Alex Soroka (4)
21. Ben Murphy (0)
22. David Hawkshaw (11)
23. Adam Byrne (65)

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Post by thebandwagonsociety Fri 20 May 2022, 4:47 pm

So that should be 5 points to Munster.

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Post by thebandwagonsociety Fri 20 May 2022, 4:47 pm

Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Dan Goggin, Keith Earls; Joey Carbery, Conor Murray; Josh Wycherley, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Thomas Ahern; Fineen Wycherley, Alex Kendellen, Jack O’Donoghue (C).

Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Jeremy Loughman, Keynan Knox, Jason Jenkins, Jack Daly, Craig Casey, Ben Healy, Rory Scannell.

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Post by profitius Sat 21 May 2022, 7:07 pm

thebandwagonsociety wrote:So that should be 5 points to Munster.

I'm not too optimistic of it. They find it very hard to score against Leinster usually.
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Post by neilthom7 Sat 21 May 2022, 9:12 pm

So if I have worked this right the quarters will be

Leinster v Glasgow
Stormers v Edinburgh
Ulster v Munster
Bulls v Sharks

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Post by Old Man Sat 21 May 2022, 10:08 pm

Good final weekend for the SA sides. Having three teams in the too five on the log has to be very satisfactory for the SA fans. The Lions finished better than expected with their no name brand team.

Now that the regular season is over, how does everyone feel about the SA sides being included, has it improved the quality of the Competition?

Does it bode well for the future of the URC?

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Post by Pot Hale Sat 21 May 2022, 10:29 pm

Old Man wrote:Good final weekend for the SA sides. Having three teams in the too five on the log has to be very satisfactory for the SA fans. The Lions finished better than expected with their no name brand team.

Now that the regular season is over, how does everyone feel about the SA sides being included, has it improved the quality of the Competition?

Does it bode well for the future of the URC?

Yes.
Yes.
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Post by mikey_dragon Sat 21 May 2022, 10:59 pm

I’d say that Bulls team probably has some future Boks in their forward pack. Big props for sure.

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Post by doctor_grey Sun 22 May 2022, 12:43 am

Pot Hale wrote:
Old Man wrote:Good final weekend for the SA sides. Having three teams in the too five on the log has to be very satisfactory for the SA fans. The Lions finished better than expected with their no name brand team.

Now that the regular season is over, how does everyone feel about the SA sides being included, has it improved the quality of the Competition?

Does it bode well for the future of the URC?

Yes.
Yes.
I agree, I agree.  
When initially proposed I thought the SA teams playing in the URC was a big step forward for the league and for Rugby.  I think Super Rugby was a bit rudderless and stale, and the URC was really looking for a major point of difference.  Though it seemed to take some time to bed in, the second half of the season, at least for me, was very engaging.  I also believe that if we can put most of the society altering aspects of Covid behind us (assuming the disease will allow it), next season should start with a lot more energy and excitement.  If the URC with the SA teams can re-capture some of the excitement of those great Sharks and Bulls teams, the league could be must-watch tv, let alone a greater in-person watch.  And could (no, should) develop a real financial engine which will help all URC markets.  I also think the SA teams will throw a well needed spanner into the Euro Rugby competitions, which drive even greater interest and financial return.  

Rugby is not a sport one normally associates with great management or organisational ideas, but this was certainly one.

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Post by RDW Sun 22 May 2022, 2:24 am

I think the addition of the SA teams has made a great first step. For this to be a big success however we need the first choice Pro 14 teams to be made available as much as possible to play against first choice SA teams. That means not sending teams to SA just before or after the international windows or big European weekends, as clubs will just rest all their top players. Hopefully the addition of SA teams in Europe will help the scheduling in that regard, although it's still going to be a nightmare given the Rugby Championship. When do SA based international players get their off season?

Are the bottom 2 SA teams going to be in the Challenge Cup btw?

In terms of the league format, I was skeptical at first but I like the addition of the shield winners. A competition which has multiple things up for grabs - whilst not being too complicated for fans to understand - is a good one.  Yes the shields aren't even in terms of quality, and there really is no rivalry or history at all between the Scottish and Italian clubs, but it's also a good first start. It means at least 4 clubs have something to show for at the end of the season, which means 4x the number of clubs keeping fans engaged in the competition for longer.

The final piece of the puzzle is what to do about the final in terms of venue. We all know Leinster if they qualify top (which they will) wil win their home QF, home SF and then home Final. That's not Leinster's fault that they're so good, but a neutral ground might even the playing field at least slightly. But then has the issue of potentially not being able to fill the stadium with a weeks notice of who will be there...

Plenty to ponder but it's been a good start I think. As has been mentioned hopefully we can have a fully loaded season next year with minimal Covid disruption, albeit we're by no means fully out of the woods on that yet!

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Post by Pot Hale Sun 22 May 2022, 7:20 am

RDW wrote:I think the addition of the SA teams has made a great first step. For this to be a big success however we need the first choice Pro 14 teams to be made available as much as possible to play against first choice SA teams. That means not sending teams to SA just before or after the international windows or big European weekends, as clubs will just rest all their top players. Hopefully the addition of SA teams in Europe will help the scheduling in that regard, although it's still going to be a nightmare given the Rugby Championship. When do SA based international players get their off season?

I agree on the scheduling but this season was unusual because of Covid impacts.   Next season will see it spread out more evenly for all teams.  Avoiding travel being around test windows will be more difficult.  EPCR competition windows are less of a problems as all teams are in the same boat and squad rotation is necessary.   The scheduling of the Currie Cup will also need to be looked at.  And the creation of some kind of an A League or U23 comp during test windows is being considered.

Are the bottom 2 SA teams going to be in the Challenge Cup btw?

No - only the Lions who are not in the top 8.  

In terms of the league format, I was skeptical at first but I like the addition of the shield winners. A competition which has multiple things up for grabs - whilst not being too complicated for fans to understand - is a good one.  Yes the shields aren't even in terms of quality, and there really is no rivalry or history at all between the Scottish and Italian clubs, but it's also a good first start. It means at least 4 clubs have something to show for at the end of the season, which means 4x the number of clubs keeping fans engaged in the competition for longer.

The shields might continue, however, the Scottish and Welsh unions pushed for the shield winners to qualify for Europe to ensure that EPCR spots were not hoovered up by the Irish and SA teams.   That option will run again for next season, but then will need a unanimous vote from all 5 unions for it to continue - so unlikely long-term.  It would then be top 8 teams on merit for both playoffs and EPCR spots.  

The final piece of the puzzle is what to do about the final in terms of venue. We all know Leinster if they qualify top (which they will) wil win their home QF, home SF and then home Final. That's not Leinster's fault that they're so good, but a neutral ground might even the playing field at least slightly. But then has the issue of potentially not being able to fill the stadium with a weeks notice of who will be there...
Again, Covid has determined the choice this year of going with the winner of the league getting home country final.   The plan is to pick the venue early next season and be able to sell with advance notice.   Wales was meant to host 2 seasons ago, but Covid cancelled that.   That plan may be revived for next season.  A final in say Cape Town would be popular with SA fans, but likely not get many visiting fans.
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Post by Old Man Sun 22 May 2022, 7:58 am

I think the scheduling of how to ensure the top players for matches to be available will always be an issue, during the Rugby Championship the Springboks aren't available and ditto for the European teams during the Six Nations. It is just the way it is with combining two hemispheres. We will likely have to live with that.

As for the final. If Leinster end top of the log, they deserve to host the final. Whether we expect them to walk the finals is neither here nor there. Consistent performance should be rewarded.

It will be up to the rest of the teams to build squad depth to emulate the success of Leinster.

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Post by profitius Mon 23 May 2022, 9:07 am

Old Man wrote:Good final weekend for the SA sides. Having three teams in the too five on the log has to be very satisfactory for the SA fans. The Lions finished better than expected with their no name brand team.

Now that the regular season is over, how does everyone feel about the SA sides being included, has it improved the quality of the Competition?

Does it bode well for the future of the URC?


It's been very good just as most expected. The SA teams are already driving up the standard. Leinster might be number 1 but the likes of Munster and Ulster are under pressure now which is good. Edinburgh have been very good this season as well. Considering it's been hit by covid, it's been as good as we could have hoped for.


What is the SA public feelings towards the league, Old Man? Are they still missing super rugby or warming towards the URC?
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Post by Old Man Mon 23 May 2022, 9:31 am

profitius wrote:
Old Man wrote:Good final weekend for the SA sides. Having three teams in the too five on the log has to be very satisfactory for the SA fans. The Lions finished better than expected with their no name brand team.

Now that the regular season is over, how does everyone feel about the SA sides being included, has it improved the quality of the Competition?

Does it bode well for the future of the URC?


It's been very good just as most expected. The SA teams are already driving up the standard. Leinster might be number 1 but the likes of Munster and Ulster are under pressure now which is good. Edinburgh have been very good this season as well. Considering it's been hit by covid, it's been as good as we could have hoped for.


What is the SA public feelings towards the league, Old Man? Are they still missing super rugby or warming towards the URC?

due to Covid I haven't been speaking to many people, but those I have spoken to are positive about the competition, the crowds are starting to trickle back tothe games, but not there yet.

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Post by Oakdene Mon 23 May 2022, 9:41 am

I was very sceptical about the South African sides coming in but they've done well in fairness. We have to ensure that no side visits South Africa during a period of international call ups & the same applies to the South African sides when they tour up here.



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Post by Old Man Mon 23 May 2022, 11:21 am

Oakdene wrote:I was very sceptical about the South African sides coming in but they've done well in fairness. We have to ensure that no side visits South Africa during a period of international call ups & the same applies to the South African sides when they tour up here.


 

I don't see how it can be avoided though, whilst the international fixtures (seasons) don't align it will continue to be an issue.

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Post by doctor_grey Tue 24 May 2022, 12:39 am

Old Man wrote:
Oakdene wrote:I was very sceptical about the South African sides coming in but they've done well in fairness. We have to ensure that no side visits South Africa during a period of international call ups & the same applies to the South African sides when they tour up here.


 

I don't see how it can be avoided though, whilst the international fixtures (seasons) don't align it will continue to be an issue.
The Rugby Championship could be moved to February-March to match the Six Nations.

C'est fini. The problems establishing a world calendar are solved.

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Post by neilthom7 Tue 24 May 2022, 7:22 pm

Might not be an issue if South Africa decide they fancy joining the 6 nations. In the meantime the only possible way they can mitigate it is to have the South African teams play only each other during the rugby championship. That way they don't lose out to full strength European sides.

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