Plans for South Africa to host the inaugural Vodacom United Rugby Championship final have been scrapped in favour of a “traditional” format for determining the venue of the decider.
According to Jim Hamilton of the ‘Rugby Pod’, officials were 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.
However, it was confirmed on Thursday that the URC would be sticking with tradition and the final will be hosted by the highest-ranked team.
This announcement will heighten the importance for teams in the URC playoff hunt to pick up every available point over the remaining 28 regular season fixtures.
Among those games are 12 clashes between North and South, 14 head-to-heads between teams currently in playoff contention in addition to eight derby matches.
“With some thrilling rugby ahead of us the time is right to confirm our plans for the first-ever United Rugby Championship Grand Final,” the tournament’s CEO Martin Anayi said. “For this campaign, it is important to understand how our teams and their fans are returning to normality after so long away from stadia and that our job is to deliver the best URC Grand Final we can in these circumstances.
“The reward of the highest-ranked team hosting the URC Grand Final adds even more to the competitive edge over the closing rounds of the league that will set us up for an incredible playoffs which now showcases our best eight teams in a battle to reach the URC Grand Final.”
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