URC allays fixture fears
REACTION: The United Rugby Championship has issued a statement clarifying that their upcoming schedule is yet to be confirmed as discontent has been voiced over the rumoured fixture list.
Meetings are still ongoing about the scheduled start of the new competition which spans two continents, with the Stormers, Sharks, Lions and Bulls set to join the existed Pro14 clubs.
Rumours circulating had suggested that the first weekend of the tournament will clash with the Welsh regional players leaving for Wayne Pivac’s November Tests camp – the weekend of October 23.
Scarlets chairman Simon Muderack noted his frustration with the potential of losing his best players for the opening round: “There are great teams across the league now.
“But only if we have access to OUR players. We should not be playing on international weekends and all countries represented should have equal access rights to their players and end to end player welfare across all games has to be managed.”
Dragons chairman David Buttress also voiced his dissent: “I think we are both acutely aware of this product issue. It is the most important one for rugby to fix.
“I personally would not play a league fixture if players are in camps or playing international fixtures. I don’t know how it came about in the first place.”
The United Rugby Championship has now issued the following statement on the matter: “Fixtures for the 2021/22 URC season are being finalised.
“The schedule has to comply with the very latest travel conditions across our territories and has been shared with our clubs and broadcasters.
“Now work has begun to assign TV slots among our seven broadcast partners and we expect to confirm these publicly as soon as possible.”
Rumours started flying after weekend reports in South Africa. Bulls head coach Jake White hinted at when the new schedule, suggesting his Bulls boys faced a heavy schedule.
“It literally goes Saturday [against the Lions last week], Wednesday into the Pumas, then a weekend off, then straight into the Cheetahs, then the semifinals [and then the final], all things being equal,” said White.
“And then I think it is a week off and then we go overseas and the way it looks now it might be four away games overseas and then eight home games.
“There are 12 consecutive weeks where we play [in the URC].”
* Additional reporting by RugbyPass