Ross Roche
Senior sports writer
2 minute read
4 May 2022
11:33 am

OPINION: URC starting to feel like home

Ross Roche

After a bumpy start to life playing in the European competition, South Africa now have three teams in the playoffs.

The Sharks are currently South Africa's leading URC team, occupying third spot on the points table. Picture: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

The United Rugby Championship (URC) is finally starting to feel like home for the South African sides after the Sharks, Stormers and Bulls confirmed their place in the competition knock-outs over the past weekend, with a full round of fixtures still to go.

It is a far cry from the disastrous start to the tournament, which had many fans and pundits questioning whether moving up north was the correct decision.

When the URC kicked off in October, the SA sides had the daunting task of taking on a four week tour to Europe and the UK without their Springboks who were on Rugby Championship duty.

It was thus not a major surprise when the SA teams struggled massively on their maiden overseas tour, picking up just four wins and one draw against 11 losses between the four teams.

By the time the SA teams finished their fixtures for the year in December, all four sides were languishing in the bottom half of the table, with the Lions 10th, Sharks 12th, Stormers 14th and Bulls 15th.

Fast forward to this week and the Sharks currently lead the SA teams in third on the log, the Stormers sit fourth, Bulls sixth and Lions 11th.

In 2022

Since the start of the New Year the Stormers have picked up 10 wins and one draw while losing just once, the Sharks have won nine games, drawn once and lost twice, while the Bulls have won nine games and lost three times.

Even the Lions who were leading the SA teams going into the New Year, before suffering a disastrous run of five losses in a row that saw them tumble down the standings, have since won five of their last seven games to make it a decent debut campaign.

With one round of pool fixtures to go, there is a possibility that the three leading SA teams could finish the pool stage in the top four on the log, however, a few big results would need to go their way.

Regardless of whether that happens, the Stormers, Sharks and Bulls will be competing in the play-offs in their maiden season in the URC, firmly proving that the SA sides belong in the competition.