Tue 15 Jun 2021 | 01:26

UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP: Team by team

UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP: Team by team
Tue 15 Jun 2021 | 01:26
UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP: Team by team
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SPOTLIGHT: Following the announcement of the United Rugby Championship, we learn more about the 16 powerhouse teams.

SOUTH AFRICA

Bulls
Home ground: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Director of Rugby: Jake White
Did you know:
* The Bulls became the first South African team to win Super Rugby when they beat the Sharks in a thrilling final in 2007.
* The most-capped Springbok of all time, Victor Matfield, captained the Bulls to all three their Super Rugby titles, in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
* The Bulls hold the Super Rugby record for the highest winning margin in a match (89 points), when they beat the Reds 92–3 in 2007.

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Lions
Home ground: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Head coach: Ivan van Rooyen
Did you know:
* The Lions progressed to the Super Rugby Final in three seasons straight – 2016 to 2018 – and hosted the final in 2017, when they topped the overall log.
* Playing in the colours of the erstwhile Transvaal, the Lions won the first-ever Super 10 competition in 1993, a precursor to Super Rugby.
* In 2017, the Lions won 14 regular season matches, which is tied for the most victories in a year with three other teams.

Sharks
Home ground: Jonsson Kings Park, Durban
Head coach: Sean Everitt
Did you know:
* The Sharks played in the first Super Rugby final after the game turned professional, in 1996, but lost to the rampant Blues in Auckland.
* The Sharks have reached the Super Rugby playoffs no less than eight times and made it to the final on four occasions, the most for any South African team.
* Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira holds the record for the most Super Rugby appearances by a South African player – 159, all in the colours of the Sharks.

Stormers
Home ground: Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Head coach: John Dobson
Did you know:
* The Stormers moved to a new home ground in the Mother City, Cape Town Stadium, from the iconic Newlands, at the start of the 2021 season.
* Pieter-Steph du Toit, a RWC winner with the Springboks in 2019, was also named World Rugby’s Player of the Year that season, and has won the SA Rugby Player of the Year award three times.
* The Stormers won 14 matches in the regular season in 2012, which is tied for the most victories in a year with three other teams.

* (Article continues below video explaining Euro qualification …)

ITALY

Benetton
Home ground: Monigo Stadium, Treviso
Coach: Kieran Crowley, next season will be Marco Bortolami
Did you know:
* Since Benetton became the official sponsor of A.S Rugby Treviso in 1978, players such as John Kirwan from New Zealand and Michael Lynagh from Australia have played for them.
* South Africa’s Tobie Botes shares the record for the most points scored in a single Pro14 match for Benetton – 21 against Scarlets on 4 September 2019.

Zebre
Home ground: Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma
Coach: Michael Bradley
Did you know:
* Zebre Rugby Club was founded in 1973 as an invitational club to best players of the North West of Italy.
* Zebre got its first-ever away wins in Ireland and South Africa in the same season – in 2017/18 they won in Galwey and Port Elizabeth.

WALES

Cardiff
Home ground: Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff
Coach: Dai Young
Did you know:
* Cardiff Rugby have consistently been one of the leading teams in Wales and remain the only Welsh side to clinch European silverware – winning the European Challenge Cup in 2010 and 2018.
* Throughout their history, Cardiff Rugby combined have produced more Wales internationals and British & Irish Lions than any other club.

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Dragons
Home ground: Rodney Parade, Newport
Director of Rugby: Dean Ryan
Did you know:
* The team’s highest placed finish of third was recorded in 2003/04, whilst in Cup competitions, their highlights include advancing to the European Challenge Cup semifinal in 2007, 2015 and 2016 respectively, plus an Anglo-Welsh Cup semifinal appearance in 2011.
* The All Blacks of 1924, and the Springboks of 1960 were considered fortunate to evade defeat at Rodney Parade, however victories over Australia (1957), New Zealand (1963) and South Africa (1912 & 1969) are written in the folklore of the Black and Ambers.

Ospreys
Home ground: Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Head coach: Toby Booth
Did you know:
* Ospreys won the first of their four Celtic League (PRO14) titles in 2005, with the other three following in 2007, 2010 and 2012 respectively. Their four successful campaings mark the most Celtic League titles held by a Welsh team.
* In 2007 they became the first Welsh region to defeat a major touring nation, seeing off Australia at the Liberty Stadium. Ospreys Rugby is also home to the most capped Rugby Player in history, Alun Wyn Jones.

Scarlets
Home ground: Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
Head coach: Dwayne Peel
Did you know:
* The Scarlets won the Celtic League (now the Pro14) in 2003/04 and lifted the last Guinness PRO12 trophy in 2017.
* The Scarlets hosted the Barbarians in January 2009 in the official opening ceremony of the Parc y Scarlets stadium after moving from their former home of Stradey Park.
* 29 Scarlets players have represented the British & Irish Lions, including Stephen Jones and Jonathan Davies.

SCOTLAND

Edinburgh
Home ground: Edinburgh Rugby Stadium (ERS), Edinburgh
Head Coach: Richard Cockerill
Did you know:
* Edinburgh played its first-ever game against Glasgow on 23 November 1872, which is now recognised as the world’s oldest representative match. Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors now compete annually for the 1872 Cup in the world’s oldest inter-city derby. The club will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2022.
* Edinburgh Rugby will move in to its new purpose-built 7,800 capacity stadium for the upcoming 2021/22 season, with Scotland’s newest ground situated next to Murrayfield. It will be the club’s first permanent home
* Edinburgh’s greatest memories have so far been enjoyed on the European stage. In 2011/12, the club reached the semifinal of the Cup after a historic home quarterfinal victory over Toulouse that was played in front of a near 40,000 crowd at Murrayfield. While a tremendous European run in 2014/15 resulted in the club reaching the European Challenge Cup final in London, where they narrowly lost out to Gloucester.
* Edinburgh Rugby have enjoyed a resurgence under Head Coach Richard Cockerill and reached the Pro14 Final Series in his first year in charge (2017/18), while the club progressed to the quarterfinal of the Champions Cup in 2018 after topping their pool above RC Toulon, Montpellier and Newcastle Falcons. The capital side further improved in 2019/20, finishing as Conference B champions only to fall short against Ulster in the Pro14 semifinal.

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Glasgow Warriors
Home ground: Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow
Head Coach: Danny Wilson
Did you know:
* The Glasgow Warriors clinched the Pro14 (then the Guinness PRO12) title in 2015 to become the first professional Scottish club side to win silverware.
* A total of 163 international players have played for the Glasgow Warriors during their careers, while they have produced 15 British & Irish Lions, the most recent being Finn Russell when he became Lion #835 in 2017.

IRELAND

Munster
Home ground(s): Thomond Park (Limerick), Musgrave Park (Cork)
Coach: Johann van Graan
Did you know:
* Munster Rugby are three-time winners of the Celtic League/PRO14 and have been runners-up on five occasions.
* Two-time champions of Europe, Munster have reached the Champions Cup quarterfinals a record-equalling 18 times and have played a record 14 European Cup semifinals.
* Munster were the only Irish side to defeat the All Blacks up to November 2016 – when Ireland beat New Zealand in Chicago – after famously defeating the Kiwis 12-0 in Thomond Park in 1978.

Ulster
Home ground: Kingspan Stadium, Belfast
Coach: Dan McFarland
Did you know:
* Scrumhalf John Cooney was the 2020-21 Pro14 leading points-scorer with 115. Cooney also topped the competition’s charts for try assists (13) and clean breaks (22).
* Ulster’s top tackler in the 2020-21 Pro14 was second row, Alan O’Connor with 149. Tighthead prop, Tom O’Toole had a 100% tackle success rate in the same competition.
* Ulster’s Club Captain, Iain Henderson has been included in the British & Irish Lions squad to tour South Africa this summer. This will be Henderson’s second successive tour.

Leinster
Home ground: RDS Arena, Dublin
Coach: Leo Cullen
Did you know:
* Leo Cullen, the current Leinster head coach, captained the province to three Cup titles in his playing days, and also represented Ireland in 32 Tests.
* Ireland stars Shane Horgan (69 tries), Brian O’Driscoll (61) and Gordon D’Arcy (60) have scored the most tries in a Leinster jersey, while Devin Toner holds the record for the most caps for the Irish province, with 266 caps.

Connacht
Home ground: The Sportsground, Galway
Coach: Andy Friend
Did you know:
* In the build-up to the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France, the Springboks played a warm-up match against Connacht, winning 18-3 and Ashwin Willemse and Jacques Cronje scoring tries.
* Former Connacht captain John Muldoon made 327 appearances for the club before his retirement in May 2018.

Source: @PRO14Official

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UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP: Team by team | Rugby365