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South African teams have made URC 'way more competitive'

By PA
The introduction of South African franchises into the URC has strengthened their links with the Northern Hemisphere (Photo by RODGER BOSCH/Getty Images)

Edinburgh winger Damien Hoyland believes the addition of four South African teams to the United Rugby Championship has proven to be a masterstroke.

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Bulls, Stormers, Sharks and Lions all joined the league for the first time last season and made an instant impact, with Stormers defeating Bulls in the play-off final in June.

Edinburgh are currently in the middle of a double-header against last term’s finalists as they prepare to face Stormers in Cape Town this Saturday following last weekend’s spirited 33-31 defeat against Bulls at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.

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“The South African teams coming into the league has been great,” said Hoyland.

“It’s made the competition way more competitive. Coming out to some of these places, like the Loftus Stadium last weekend, is something you dream of. Getting to play there, in such an iconic stadium, was epic.

“It certainly adds to the motivation. Whenever we play against a South African team, we know it’s an opportunity to play against some of the best guys in the world.

“I feel it’s brought out the best in us and we’re excited for the challenge again this weekend.”

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Despite defeat to Bulls, Edinburgh have made an encouraging start to the campaign by scoring 75 points across their opening two games.

“We create a lot of opportunities,” said Hoyland. “We’ve started off with an exciting brand of rugby and I’m thoroughly enjoying being part of that.

“We’re extremely confident we can do very well this season. We’ve got the gameplan and the players, so we’re just really excited to see where we end up.”

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Scotland international Hoyland feels he has plenty of scope for personal improvement.

“I feel I got into good form towards the end of last season but if I’m being honest I’ve probably not started as well as I’d have liked,” he said.

“Mainly, I just want to get the ball in my hands more often.

“The last few games I’ve not had as many touches as I’d have liked so that’s something to work on. I’m feeling good when I do have the ball in my hands. I’m just looking to improve my performance whenever I get the opportunity.”

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