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URC review: Ranking the Republic's rivals

Now that all is set and done, with Glasgow Warriors crowned champions, @AngyboyJ reviews the seasons of the four South African franchises.

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Sharks

Rating: 2/10
Played: 18, won: four, lost 14
Position: 14th

A team stacked with internationals and so much promise failed to progress to the URC knockouts for the second consecutive year.

This time around it was much worse as they had a nightmare season with only recording four wins in the URC and failing to record a single win against their South African counterparts.

They had the silver lining of winning the Challenge Cup – which gave them automatic qualification into the Champions Cup next season.

However, they would want to be a title contender in the 2024/25 season.

Lions

Rating: 6/10
Played: 18, won: nine, lost: nine
Position: Ninth

Another season of ‘what could have been’ for the Johannesburg franchise.

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Since the inception of the URC, the Lions came within an arm’s reach of making the quarterfinal stage.

This season it was again close.

Ospreys decided their fate when they pipped Cardiff after the Lions lost a must-win final match against the Stormers away from home.

The Lions will also lament the games they squandered – as six of their nine losses were by seven points or less.

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Their inability to close out games they should’ve won came back to bite them and is something they should seriously address ahead of next season.

Stormers

Rating: 7.5/10
Played: 18, won: 12, lost: six
Position: Fifth

A disappointing season for the Cape Town-based team after competing in back-to-back home Finals – winning the first one one in 2022.

There was a lot of excitement about the Stormers’ season prospects, but a poor start away from home on their four-match tour saw them lose all their matches.

More agonisingly, three of those four games were by seven points or less.

They also had a shock home loss to the Ospreys that effectively cost them a top-four finish.

Given their strong home record, one could wonder how far they might have gone had they made a top-four finish and had a home quarterfinal.

They lost their away quarterfinal to eventual champions Glasgow Warriors and weren’t always firing at their best throughout the season which can be a cause for concern, but also an opportunity to address and fix ahead of next season.

Bulls

Rating: 9/10
Played: 18, won: 13, lost: five
Position: Second

In what was in many ways a watershed season for the Bulls – where they started to look like the real deal – they will be disappointed to lose a home URC Final to the Glasgow Warriors – having also fallen short away from home to the Stormers in 2022.

The Bulls seemed to grow in leaps and bounds as the season progressed.

Their only home blemish came against Munster after a red card to flyhalf Johan Goosen.

The Bulls seemed well on track to a first title in the Northern Hemisphere.

They also lost only once against fellow South African opposition, the Stormers, but got their revenge over their arch-rivals at home.

That ended the Cape side’s winning streak over fellow South African teams – a run that started in 2022.

They also took the SA Shield away from the Stormers.

They would take many positives from this season to use in the next one to come back stronger and wiser and hopefully not stumble at the final hurdle again.

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