TheLocalYokel

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I hadn’t realised that the Pro-14 competition has been renamed, or at least that’s what I’ve deduced. If I’m wrong perhaps someone (Jerry perhaps as our resident rugby union expert - he won’t claim that but he is) will put me right.

I believe Pro-14 is now the United Rugby Championship and this season (2021-2022) the format will see the 16 teams split into four regional pools for the first part of the competition: the Irish Shield pool (four Irish teams); the Welsh Shield pool (four Welsh teams); the South African Shield pool (four South African teams); the Scottish and Italian Shield pool (two Scottish and two Italian teams).

Teams will play each of the other teams in their pool twice (home and away), and each team from the other pools once (either home or away, presumably spread so that each team has the same number of home and away matches against the other pools’ teams). This leads to a total of 18 matches per team in this part of the competition.

The 16 teams will create one league table based on their 18 matches from which the top eight will play off in a knock-out competition to decide the ultimate champions. They will be seeded from one to eight so presumably the top team will play at home to the eighth-placed team, the second-placed team at home to the seventh-placed team and so on. The four individual pool winners will also each receive a shield.

I suppose that it’s possible for the eighth-placed team in the league table to win the knock-out section and become champions. It’s a bit like how the English Rugby Premiership decides its champions - the top four in the league at the end of the season play off in a mini knock-out tournament in that competition.

I’m not keen on that. If you have a league the team that finishes top of the league should be the champions although I can see with this competition that it is different in that, unlike the English Rugby Premiership, not all teams play each other twice in the first part of the competition.

As this is mainly an aviation forum it’s worth saying that with four Welsh teams playing four South African teams during the first part of the competition CWL might benefit from some long-haul flights. I wonder if charter flights will be organised for fans.

As I said earlier, if I’ve got some of this wrong please correct me.
 

Jerry

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If I’m wrong perhaps someone (Jerry perhaps as our resident rugby union expert - he won’t claim that but he is) will put me right.
Yep it's be renamed now due to the introduction of the South African ex Super rugby sides (Stormers from Cape Town, Bulls from Pretoria, Lions from Johannesburg and Sharks from Durban) and it's expansion to 16 teams. The pool system is a bit better in that it guarantees 6 derby games a season which tend to attract bigger crowds especially for the Welsh teams. Also the games will be back on BBC Wales as well as S4C in Wales.
As this is mainly an aviation forum it’s worth saying that with four Welsh teams playing four South African teams during the first part of the competition CWL might benefit from some long-haul flights. I wonder if charter flights will be organised for fans.
I'd expect that the South African sides will fly into Heathrow from South Africa but will may use CWL for flights to say Ireland or Scotland or Italy. If Qatar return then maybe we might see them and welsh teams use them in the future?
 

geoff

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I thought it had been announced, that all away games against the South African sides will be played in Italy, because South Africa is a red travel zone.
 

Jerry

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I thought it had been announced, that all away games against the South African sides will be played in Italy, because South Africa is a red travel zone.
I must have missed that.
 

Jerry

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I cannot understand the rationale behind the competition or it's format. What happened to national leagues?
Wales, Ireland, Italy and Scotland all have semi pro and amateur leagues and South Africa I believe has another level of professional teams that play in competitions like the Currie Cup.
For the Celtic countries and Italy fully professional national leagues like in England and France aren't sustainable. For Ireland, Wales and Scotland it's down to population size but for Italy it's down to rugby being a minority sport there.
 

JENNYJET

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Now then, what and who determines sustainability and for what purpose?

If Celtic and other subsidiary nations can run a league that suits them alone and good players are snaffled away by a professional outfit then this organic development. The top level teams also began from a lowly level and even little provincial clubs develop into something magnificent, like Exeter has.

From what I can fathom, the secondary competition has been over complicated but I suspect I am fully of aggravated dimness, or as a friend once said, "wake up thicko".
 

Jerry

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If Celtic and other subsidiary nations can run a league that suits them alone and good players are snaffled away by a professional outfit then this organic development.
Not if said countries want a domestic rugby product. In Wales a professional league like England's isn't sustainable in modern sport. Not enough money, big enough fan base and big enough player pool.
 

TheLocalYokel

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Further to Jerry's post, top level teams in England, as anywhere else, might have begun as 'little provincial clubs' at the dawn of the sport but for many years prior to rugby union turning professional in the mid-1990s most clubs now in the Premiership were major clubs in the amateur ('shamateur') days.

Perhaps the two Premiership clubs that weren't quite at the top level in those days were Exeter and Worcester but they were still of a very decent standard and status, especially Exeter, and Newcastle Falcons morphed from Gosforth RFC in the latter part of the last century.

It's very difficult these days for a team not already in existence to 'come from nowhere' with funding and size of fan base the particular difficulties, as well as finding a ground suitable for the Premiership. A Cornish team (probably Cornish Pirates, formerly Penzance & Newlyn RFC) might be the most likely with rugby union almost a religion there as in Wales.

It's certainly not impossible although in England the Premiership has now ring-fenced its current 13 member clubs so there is no promotion to or relegation from the Premiership at the moment. This is supposedly a temporary arrangement but does currently prevent any other club from breaking into the top level of club rugby in England.

So if these difficulties abound in England with its much greater population size and far more clubs and players, it's easy to see why Wales has been obliged to plough the furrow it has if it wants to participate in top level European club rugby.
 

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