United Rugby Championship (URC) coming to SA next month
SA teams in the United Rugby Championship (URC) — the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers — will host their European counterparts at home next month.
The tournament organisers confirmed on Friday afternoon that SA will be the destination for clashes in rounds six and seven according to the original schedule.
Contingency plans for the games to be played in Europe were at an advanced stage due to SA being on the UK travel “red list” which would have required teams to quarantine for 10 days after their two-game tours.
But since SA’s removal from the red list last week, lightning-fast actions have taken place to ensure that all four teams are ready to host their opponents from the northern hemisphere on home soil.
This ensures that each team will have the integrity of playing all nine of their home games in SA.
“Along with our four franchises, we are thrilled with the news,” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.
“Planning to play our teams’ ‘home games’ in Europe was a necessary step in light of the chaos caused by the pandemic, but we are really grateful that we’ve progressed to a stage where we can now welcome our friends from the northern hemisphere back to SA.
“Combined with the news earlier in the week that limited spectators will be allowed into stadiums, we can now start planning for matches in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town with fans in attendance. It’s a big step in the right direction.”
The teams travelling south for these encounters are Zebre Parma, Scarlets, Munster and Cardiff, all of whom will be playing two matches on consecutive weekends (November 27/28 and December 3/4) in SA.
Martin Anayi, CEO of United Rugby Championship, said: “This is a brilliant result, not only for the SA teams but for the league which now gets to make a tangible impression in this rugby heartland early in the season.
“Huge credit must go to the SA government, SA Rugby and the leadership figures within our clubs for managing to push through and provide reassurances for these fixtures to be played at their home venues in such a short space of time.
“Up until late last week, it looks like a very tall order for this to occur, but now everyone in the league has been bolstered by this news and we will harness that enthusiasm to get ready for some real blockbuster fixtures in rounds 6 and 7.”
URC fixtures in SA — rounds six and seven:
Stormers v Zebre (3pm)
Sharks v Scarlets (5.30pm)
Bulls v Munster (7.45pm)
Lions v Cardiff (4pm)
Bulls v Scarlets (7.35pm)
Sharks v Zebre (3pm)
Lions v Munster (5.30pm)
Stormers v Cardiff (7.45pm)