The key metrics that shows why URC has surpassed Super Rugby
While the Trans-Tasman alliance is bickering over their ever-shrinking Super Rugby money pot without South Africa, the United Rugby Championship is celebrating the explosion and success of their competition with the presence of teams from the Republic.
Martin Anayi, the Chief Executive Officer of the URC, described the first season of the cross-hemisphere competition as an ‘incredible success’.
Speaking on a Roc Nation-hosted round table, Anay said season one had exceeded their expectations.
“I think it has turned into something that we had hoped it to be, but we never knew that it would be – which is this super competitive competition,” the CEO said.
He added that the presence of South African teams has resulted in the URC breaking all broadcast records it had achieved in its previous guises – the Welsh-Scottish League, Celtic League, Pro12 and Pro14.
The Pro14 was what gave officials the first indication of the value of South African teams – with the participation of the Cheetahs and Southern Kings.
However, it was when they brought in the big guns – like the inaugural champion Stormers, Bulls, Sharks and Lions – that the numbers skyrocketed.
He said the goal was to raise the profile of the competition and did so by bringing in the best South Africa had to offer.
“You guys showed up, turned up, and did the business,” he said of the all-South African Final between the Stormers and Bulls in Cape Town.
He described season one as an “exceptional” year.
(Article continues below …)
“As a result of that which transpired on the field, off the field we had some tremendous successes,” Anayi said.
“We almost tripled our biggest-ever broadcast audience,” the CEO said, adding: “To go from a 12-million record up to 35-million in a season is spectacular.
“The Final was watched by over 1.25-million people.
“Forty percent of that number was from outside of South Africa, which shows the global interest in teams from South Africa.
“Those are really pleasing numbers and for us a key metric.”
Anayi said another important stat is that almost three million people watched just one of the rounds.
“We’re a young league and we want to keep improving, bettering ourselves,” the URC boss said.
“When you see some of these statistics and data points, you’re thinking: ‘We are going in the right direction’.
“On the back of those stats, we are we are really looking forward to season two and what that will bring.”
He pointed out that South African teams will face the additional challenge of having to compete in the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competitions – with the Cheetahs getting an invite to join the other four SA franchises on the global stage.
“That [playing in the Champions and Challenge Cup competitions] is another level.
“And I don’t mean that in a derogatory way or to detract from the URC, but South African teams will find it another level.
“You are going to play against the best French and English teams.
“Those teams are going to be pumped up to go to South Africa.
“It is a lot to look forward to in the year ahead.
“But but what a first year!”