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The United Rugby Championship was announced today as the new-look Pro14 with four South African sides joining the ranks.
You can read more about the new league here.
The new-look league comes with a few changes.
The league will be split into four pools of four.
An Irish pool, a South African pool, a Welsh pool and a Scottish-Italian pool.
The pools of four will allow each team to play six derby games – home and away.
The other 12 games will be fixtures against other teams in the championship with an even number of home and away games.
Everything you need to know ⬇️
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) June 15, 2021
A unified table will display the standings overall.
The top eight teams in these standings will enter into the quarter-finals in an NFL-style climax to the season.
The aforementioned pools will be key for European qualification as all 16 teams will be eligible.
The winners of each pool will qualify for the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup.
The other four spots for the competition will then be awarded to the four highest-placed teams in the overall standings, excluding the pool winners.
The reactions to this tournament online have been mixed but leaning towards positive.
Love the fact that every team will play each other at least once. Terrific format.
— Derek Alberts (@derekalberts1) June 15, 2021
Some fans have applauded the new scheduling of the tournament, which allows internationals to be available more often.
It means that the United Rugby Championship’s players will be a huge draw.
Fans will get to see Siya Kolisi face-off against Josh Van Der Flier and Duane Vermuelen take on Munster’s Gavin Coombes.
Furthermore, teams will have the possibility to play to their full potential.
For example, Benetton missed a lot of their internationals for most of the Pro14 but have been on form in the Rainbow Cup, reaching the final.
Benetton will be able to perform at the level it is capable of during the United Rugby Championship as players like Paolo Garbisi will be available almost all the time.
However, other fans of the league were not so keen on the new expansion.
The one thing I really don't like about the new United Rugby Championship is the move away from full meritocracy in terms of Champions Cup qualification. You could have one team qualifying and another four or five places higher in the URC table not doing so.
— Simon Thomas (@simonrug) June 15, 2021
The new setup for European qualification has emerged as a contentious point.
As the setup guarantees the winner of each pool a spot, teams higher up in the URC table could miss out on playing Champions Cup rugby.
Even if they had a better points tally after 18 games.
Regardless, this is final and it begins in September 2021.
Who knows, the South Africans might stop Leinster getting five-in-a-row.
Some Connacht fans were not happy
Not sure the pool divisions are very fair, Connacht have a mountainous task to qualify for the Champions Cup in the future. https://t.co/yvW6EilZ7k
— Joe Naughton (@JosephNaughton4) June 15, 2021