Leinster boss Leo Cullen says a South African team has to “earn the right” to host the Vodacom United Rugby Championship final on home soil, reports DEVIN HERMANUS.
According to Jim Hamilton of the ‘Rugby Pod’, officials are considering staging the showpiece URC match on 18 June in South Africa, to help grow the profile of the tournament in the country, regardless of whether an SA side makes it through or not.
In the competition’s previous iterations as the PRO12, PRO14 and PRO16, the grand finale was always held in the UK or Ireland, either at a designated neutral venue or the home stadium of the best-ranked team.
Leinster beat fellow Irish side Munster in Dublin to retain their PRO14 title in 2020-21, having defeated Ulster in 2019-20 at the Aviva Stadium to defend their crown and complete a hat-trick of title wins.
Ahead of Leinster’s clash with the Sharks in Durban on Saturday, Cullen told media: “[Hosting the URC final in SA] is the challenge in the short term, but the team that finishes top needs to have the advantage. From a supporter point of view it’s a problem, too, for travelling.
“The competition also needs to settle itself before discussions of a neutral venue. Have to earn your right, for a final, in my opinion.”
All but assured of a home playoff spot, Leinster travelled to SA to face the Sharks and Stormers without a host of Ireland internationals.
The Stormers and Sharks are currently the best-placed SA teams in the URC, in fifth and sixth respectively, with Leinster 10 points clear at the top with three games left of the round-robin stage.