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REVEALED: The derby numbers that really matter

SPOTLIGHT: The United Rugby Championship is delicately poised for South African teams at the halfway stage – with the overall standings and Shield positions painting two contrasting pictures.

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It is worth reminding readers – as there seems to be some confusion – that this season the Shield winners are #NOT based on the overall position of teams.

The organisers have added some extra spice by deciding that the Shield winners will be based #ONLY on matches in derbies – i.e. results from matches against teams in that specific Shield grouping.

There are four Shield groupings: The Irish pool (featuring the four Irish provinces), the Welsh pool (featuring the four Welsh regions), the South African pool (featuring the four South African franchises) and the Scottish/Italian pool (featuring the two Italian and two Scottish sides).

The Bulls are still flying the flag at the halfway stage – sitting pretty in fourth position, with six wins from nine starts.

Leinster, beaten in the semifinals in the past two seasons despite topping the standings, lead the tournament at the halfway stage with 34 points (seven wins from nine starts) – followed by Italian outfit Benetton (32 – seven wins and a draw), Scottish powerhouse Glasgow Warriors (31 – six wins) and the South African leaders, the Bulls (30- six wins).

However, the South African Shield – where the Stormers have gone unbeaten for two consecutive calendar years against local teams – the Cape Town-based franchise still rules the roost.

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They are now on a 16-match winning streak against SA teams – their last loss in derbies was the 19-37 reversal against the Lions in their first-ever at the Cape Town Stadium in December 2021.

Their three Shield (derby) wins this season (2023-24) have seen the Stormers surge to the top of the Shield standings – 13 points from three wins in three starts, even though they are seventh overall.

The Bulls, courtesy of their heartbreaking 20-26 loss to the Stormers in Cape Town on the eve of Christmas are only second in the SA Shield standings (10 points, two wins), followed by the Lions (seven, one win) and the winless Sharks (two losing bonus points).

That makes rounds 10 and 11 crucial in the Shield race.

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The Stormers travel to Durban and Pretoria for derby matches, while the Bulls travel to Johannesburg, before hosting the Stormers.

The March 2 face-off at Loftus Versfeld may well be a Shield decider.

The Lions still have an outside chance of claiming the Shield, but must win their remaining games and hope a result or two go their way.

They host the Bulls and Sharks in rounds 10 and 11.

The Stormers host the Lions in Cape Town on June 1 and the Sharks host the Bulls in Durban on the same day in the final derby round.

(Continue below …)

URC SA Shield & overall standings

The SA Shield at a glance

Stormers results

ROUND ONE: Lions 33-35 Stormers
ROUND EIGHT: Stormers 26-20 Bulls
ROUND NINE: Stormers 16-15 Sharks

Remaining fixture

ROUND 10: Saturday, February 17 – Sharks v Stormers
ROUND 11: Saturday, March 2 – Bulls v Stormers
ROUND 18: Saturday, June 1 – Stormers v Lions

Bulls results

ROUND SEVEN: Bulls 44-10 Sharks
ROUND EIGHT: Stormers 26-20 Bulls
ROUND NINE: Bulls 30-28 Lions

Remaining fixtures

ROUND 10: Saturday, February 17 – Lions v Bulls
ROUND 11: Saturday, March 2 – Bulls v Stormers
ROUND 18: Saturday, June 1 – Sharks v Bulls

Lions results

ROUND ONE: Lions 33-35 Stormers
ROUND EIGHT: Sharks 18-20 Lions
ROUND NINE: Bulls 30-28 Lions

Remaining fixtures

ROUND 10: Saturday, February 17 – Lions v Bulls
ROUND 11: Saturday, March 2 – Lions v Sharks
ROUND 18: Saturday, June 1 – Stormers v Lions

Sharks results

ROUND SEVEN: Bulls 44-10 Sharks
ROUND EIGHT: Sharks 18-20 Lions
ROUND NINE: Stormers 16-15 Sharks

Remaining fixtures

ROUND 10: Saturday, February 17 – Sharks v Stormers
ROUND 11: Saturday, March 2 – Lions v Sharks
ROUND 18: Saturday, June 1 – Sharks v Bulls

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