History, evolution and current format

United Rugby Championship: la storia, l’evoluzione e l’attuale formato

Football is probably the most popular sport in the world and in recent years it has gone through many changes with new competition regulations and institutions. However, other popular sports have also experienced significant changes around the world. Among these, rugby, and in particular the United Rugby Championship, cannot go unmentioned. Formerly known as the Pro14, Pro12 and Celtic League, this 15-a-side rugby event was born in 2001 as the Celtic League, then affecting only the associations of Wales, Ireland and Scotland. After 9 years, 2 Italian franchises were added.

However, the United Rugby Championship does not represent the major league of all participating countries: for example, Italy maintains its own national championship. However, the United Rugby Championship is also the largest continent African teams can also participate in European Cups. Needless to say, the tournament format has been modified several times over the years. Initially, there were 2 groups of 7 teams that faced each other in a single game, and they were the top 4 going into the playoffs. When the teams were reduced to 12, the competition still retained the Celtic League name. A single group consists of the winning team being listed as outright champions.

From 2009 to 2017, the group included home and away games, with playoffs returning after the regular season. At this stage, precisely from 2011, there was also the transition from the Celtic League to the Pro 12, thanks to the presence of Italian teams. Only 2 teams won in those years, both 4 times: Irish of Leinster and Welsh of Ospreys. From the 2017/2018 season onwards, the format changed further with the inclusion of South African teams.

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The tournament thus became the Pro14 with 2 groups of 7 teams. A year ago, the tournament was transformed into the “United Rugby Championship” following the arrival of 4 new teams from South Africa. The groups were divided into 4 geographically. Each formation meets the others in its group twice and then moves on to challenge teams from the other group. After qualifying the top 8 go into single elimination playoffs. There is nothing supernatural at this point, but there is no guarantee that there will not be other changes in the future, perhaps with the participation of other countries.

The Leinster boys have won the final of the tournament for the last 4 years. This will not be the case in 2022 as the Irish lost their semi-final against the title-winning Bulls against the Stormers in Cape Town in what promises to be a historic grand final with both teams playing United rugby. The championship will start exactly this year. The finals of the rugby 15-a-side tournament for clubs will be held in South Africa, and Ireland are the reigning United Rugby Championship champions with 13 wins. Their roll of honor is going to add a new team name. However, even today, an Italian man is still missing …

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