The Bulls and Sharks look set to start the United Rugby Championship with tough road trips to Ireland in the new set of draft fixtures for the inaugural tournament.
According to the Irish Times, the Bulls, Sharks, Lions and Stormers – as well as the current PRO14 teams – have been given several draft fixture lists for the first edition of the new competition, as organisers attempt to plan around the Covid-19 situation in the UK, Ireland and South Africa.
The inaugural URC, which will combine South Africa’s former Super Rugby outfits with the existing PRO14 teams from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy, is scheduled to get underway in September.
URC organisers are taking the current Covid situation in South Africa into account in planning the fixtures and according to the latest draft fixtures, none of the teams from the Six Nations countries will travel to SA until November.
Instead, the Bulls, Sharks, Lions and Stormers look set to travel to the north for the first four rounds of the tournament, before facing each other in the fifth round.
The Bulls will reportedly start their campaign against eight-time PRO14 champions Leinster, while the Sharks will take on Johann van Graan’s Munster in the opening round on the final weekend of September.
The tournament is set to take a break following the weekend of 22-24 October, to allow for the November Internationals to be played.
While the South African teams have a tough start to the new season, they could have a much kinder finish as they seem likely to play most of their final games of the season at home. According to the latest report, the Sharks will be at Kings Park for six of their last seven games of the tournament.
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