The United Rugby Championship: What is it?

It was announced around a half hour ago, that the Pro14 will officially rebrand as the URC, United Rugby Championship, as confirmation comes from South Africa's four teams joining the competition for the 21/22 season.

The Sharks, Stormers, Lions and Bulls will join the competition and play alongside the existing 12 sides from Italy, Ireland, Wales and Scotland in a new-look, 16-team league. It will all be kept in one division with an end of season play-off determining finalists.

"We are taking the league to new heights," said URC chief executive Martin Anayi.

"Forming the United Rugby Championship will begin to reshape the club rugby world."

The South African teams will also be eligible to qualify for the European competitions in 22/23 in a huge reform for European Rugby. The four former Super Rugby sides have also replaced the Cheetahs and Southern Kings in the tournament in another huge twist.

The agreement of the new competition will create a brand new pathway for SA Rugby to become a full shareholder in Pro Rugby; this will be alongside the Celtic and Italian unions.

The season will also commence in correlation to the northern hemisphere Rugby calendar, starting in late September and ending with a grand final in mid June. This new competition will run for at least five seasons with BBC stating that league bosses have no intention to change the format again.

Initial Reactions

Despite some initial worries about logistics, the initial reaction by most fans is positive, praising less cannibalisation of players due to no clashing with test weekends, and a new, far more spread-out season.

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