South African teams to take part in United Rugby Championship

The new PRO Rugby competition including the four South African teams has been announced as the United Rugby Championship on Tuesday morning.

The United Rugby Championship will kick off in September 2021 as the top clubs from South Africa (the Sharks, Stormers, Lions and Bulls) combine with the PRO14 to create a 16-team league.

This game-changing agreement between SA Rugby and PRO14 Rugby will strengthen their existing partnership and drive greater growth of the game to the benefit of all 16 teams in the league.

The URC will use one league table to rank the teams who will reach the knockout stages and compete to reach the title and become the champions.

The regular season of the United Rugby Championship will take place across 18 rounds with each team’s fixtures comprising six home AND away fixtures against their regional pool opponents and 12 home OR away fixtures against the remaining teams in the league.

One league table will be used to rank teams and after 18 rounds the top-eight sides will qualify for the playoffs. Teams will be seeded from one to eight and will receive home advantage according to their seeding.

A full round of quarter-finals and semi-finals will take place to produce two teams who will qualify for the grand final.

Regional pools

Irish pool: Connacht, Leinster, Munster, Ulster

Welsh pool: Dragons, Cardiff Rugby, Ospreys, Scarlets

South African pool: Sharks, Stormers, Lions and Bulls

Italian & Scottish pool: Benetton Rugby, Edinburgh, Glasgow Warriors, Zebre Rugby Club.

A total of eight teams from the United Rugby Championship will qualify each season for the following season’s European Champions Cup. The balance of teams will participate in the Challenge Cup.

Subject to the finalisation of contract terms with EPCR, South African teams will be eligible to qualify for the European Champions Cup from the 2022-23 season if they have finished in the United Rugby Championship qualification places from the prior season.

Photo:Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

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Dylan Jack