Rugby sportsbiz

SA Rugby And PRO14 Rugby Unveil United Rugby Championship

By Taruka Srivastav | June 15, 2021

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

The United Rugby Championship will be bigger, bolder and stronger than its predecessors. Teams from  five of rugby’s elite nations – Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Wales and South Africa will transform the competition into a league of super clubs, which will embrace difference and champion its athletes on their journey with  the URC proudly representing all of those involved with the game. 

Off the field the United Rugby Championship will strive to provide a platform for our players to tell their  stories so that their achievements in sport and society can inspire the next-generation of rugby talent and  the sport’s supporters to prove that rugby is a game for all. 

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

Martin Anayi, CEO of United Rugby Championship, said: “Fans have always asked more of our league  and now we are taking it to new heights. The United Rugby Championship will see World Cup winners, icons  of the Guinness Six Nations, the Rugby Championship and stars of the British & Irish Lions tour turning up  the intensity in an exciting new league format.

“Since the origins of the Celtic League in 2001, the vision has  been to innovate and evolve in order to create a compelling competition which would challenge our players  and teams to be at their very best every single week. Their potential has never been in doubt and now we  can provide them with the arena to be the very best. 

“Forming the United Rugby Championship will begin to reshape the world of club rugby. We are creating a  league that embraces and celebrates difference and where the only way to succeed will be to match the skill  and intensity of the international game. 

“The arrival of South Africa’s elite teams and the removal of fixtures from international match weekends will  make our league stronger across the board. We will see heroes taking on heroes every week in iconic  locations to create an appeal that will be unmatched in in the world of club rugby.  

“We now have a clear purpose and identity that everyone associated with our league can stand behind. We  have listened and we have answered the challenge set by our clubs to take this competition to the next level  both on and off the field. North and south will now collide on a regular basis and we cannot wait to see who  will rise up as the first champions of the United Rugby Championship.” 

Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby, said: “South African rugby has for many years imagined a future aligned  with northern-hemisphere rugby and this announcement marks the arrival of that vision.  

“Our teams will be pitting themselves against the leading clubs from four nations, steeped in rugby tradition  and folklore. They’ll do it without having to cross time zones or acclimatise while 100 per cent of matches  will kick off in South African prime time.

“This is a watershed moment in South African rugby history, opening new doors and heralding a new and  exciting era for our sport.”  

Rugby sportsbiz