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URC statement: New South African trip confirmed for Munster and co

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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The under-pressure United Rugby Championship has tweaked its upcoming fixtures schedule in the hope that the recent virus-enforced chaos involving cross-hemisphere travel isn’t repeated next month. Cardiff, Munster, Scarlets and Zebre Parma were all caught up in quarantine hell when shortly after they arrived in South Africa recently for two rounds of URC matches versus the local Bulls, Lions, Sharks and the Stormers franchises.

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Those games were called off following the emergence of the omicron virus strain and it resulted in outbreaks and quarantine that affected those Welsh, Irish and Italian clubs and their respective European campaigns. Scarlets, for instance, has to forfeit their Champions Cup tie at Bristol as their squad was held up in quarantine in Belfast after its complicated return from South Africa.

The shambles of the trips to the southern hemisphere by the four European-based teams generated grave concerns that the URC season won’t be completed with all of its planned fixtures taking place. However, tournament organisers are determined they can safeguard the credibility of the cross-hemisphere tournament and they have now taken steps to ensure there is no more fixtures chaos in the near future. 

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All four South African franchises were due to play in Europe in round ten of the URC on the weekend of January 7, but these matches which were to feature the Bulls at Zebre, the Lions at Leinster, the Stormers and Connacht and the Sharks at Benetton have been rescheduled for the weekend of February 25 in the hope that the current pandemic restrictions will have been lifted.  

It is also intended to play the infamously postponed round six and seven URC matches featuring Cardiff, Munster, Scarlets and Zebre in South Africa on the weekend of March 11 and 18. A URC tournament statement on Monday read: “Scheduling for the United Rugby Championship up to round 17 has been completed with adjustments made to cater for postponed and rescheduled fixtures.

“To avoid further rescheduling in the immediate calendar, the round ten fixtures involving South African teams due to take place in Ireland and Italy have been rescheduled to the final weekend of February. The postponed fixtures from rounds six and seven that were due to take place in South Africa will now be moved to the weekends of March 11/12 and March 18/19. More details about these fixtures will be confirmed after further discussions with key stakeholders involved are completed.

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“A number of South African derbies have also been adjusted to accommodate the revised schedule. The URC is fully committed to playing all games as scheduled but will ensure that the welfare of teams and players comes first. The league is greatly encouraged by the decision of the UK government to ease travel restrictions with respect to South Africa and will continue to comply with directions set out by the health authorities and government departments in our various jurisdictions.

“The URC medical advisory group will continue to provide regular guidance and updates to our clubs regarding best practice and health and safety measures in relation to Covid-19 protocols. The dates and kick-off times for round 18 will be confirmed next month after consultation with our broadcast partners who have been of great assistance during this process.”

URC SCHEDULE ROUNDS 10 TO 17
Round 10 – Saturday, January 8
Edinburgh v Cardiff | 15:00 UK / 16:00 ITA / 17:00 SA | BBC Wales, Premier Sports
Glasgow Warriors v Ospreys | 17:15 UK / 18:15 ITA / 19:15 SA | Premier Sports, S4C
Munster v Ulster | 19:35 UK / 20:35 ITA / 21 :35 SA | RTE, Super Sport, Premier Sports
Scarlets v Dragons | 19:35 UK / 20:35 ITA / 21 :35 SA | Premier Sports

Round 8 (SA derbies) – Saturday, January 22
Emirates Lions v Cell C Sharks | 13:00 UK / 14:00 ITA / 15:00 SA | Super Sport, Premier Sports
Vodacom Bulls v DHL Stormers | 15:05 UK / 16:05 ITA / 17:05 SA | Super Sport, Premier Sports

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Round 11 – Friday, January 28
Ulster v Scarlets | 19.35 UK / 20.35 ITA / 21.35 SA | Premier Sports
Dragons v Benetton | 19.35 UK / 20.35 ITA / 21.35 SA | BBC Wales, Mediaset, Premier Sports
Saturday, January 29
Emirates Lions v Vodacom Bulls | 13.00 UK / 14.00 ITA / 15.00 SA | Super Sport, Premier Sports
Connacht v Glasgow Warriors | 14.55 UK / 15.55 ITA / 16.55 SA | RTÉ 2, Premier Sports
Cell C Sharks v DHL Stormers | 15.05 UK / 16.05 ITA / 17.05 SA | SuperSport, Premier Sports
Zebre Parma Parma v Munster | 17.00 UK / 18.00 ITA / 19.00 SA | Mediaset, RTÉ 2, Premier Sports
Ospreys v Edinburgh | 17.15 UK / 18.15 ITA / 19.15 SA | Premier Sports
Cardiff v Leinster | 19.35 UK / 20.35 ITA / 21.35 SA | S4C, TG4, Premier Sports

Round 9 (SA derbies) – Saturday, February 5
Vodacom Bulls v Emirates Lions | 13.00 UK / 14.00 ITA / 15.00 SA | Super Sport, Premier Sports
DHL Stormers v Cell C Sharks | 15.05 UK / 16.05 ITA / 17.05 SA | Super Sport, Premier Sports

Round 12 (SA derbies) – Saturday, February 12
Emirates Lions v DHL Stormers | 13.00 UK / 14.00 ITA / 15.00 SA | Super Sport, Premier Sports
Vodacom Bulls v Cell C Sharks | 15.05 UK / 16.05 ITA / 17.05 SA | Super Sport, Premier Sports

Round 12 – Friday, February 18
Munster v Edinburgh | 19.35 UK / 20.35 ITA / 21.35 SA | TG4, Premier Sports
Cardiff v Zebre Parma | 19.35 UK / 20.35 ITA / 21.35 SA | BBC Wales, Mediaset, Premier Sports
Saturday, February 19
Leinster v Ospreys | 17.00 UK / 18.00 ITA / 19.00 SA | RTÉ 2, S4C, Premier Sports
Scarlets v Connacht | 19.35 UK / 20.35 ITA / 21.35 SA | S4C, TG4, Premier Sports
Glasgow Warriors v Benetton | 19.35 UK / 20.35 ITA / 21.35 SA | Premier Sports, Mediaset
Sunday, February 20
Dragons v Ulster | 14:00 UK / 15:00 ITA / 16:00 SA | Premier Sports

Round 10 (rescheduled) – Friday, February 25
Zebre Parma v Vodacom Bulls | 17:30 UK / 18:30 ITA / 19:30 SA | Mediaset, Super Sport, Premier Sports
Leinster v Emirates Lions | 19:35 UK / 20:35 ITA / 21 :35 SA | TG4, Super Sport, Premier Sports
Saturday, February 26
Connacht v DHL Stormers | 13:00 UK / 14:00 ITA / 15:00 SA | RTE, Super Sport, Premier Sports
Benetton v Cell C Sharks | 15:05 UK / 16:05 ITA / 17:05 SA | Mediaset, Super Sport, Premier Sport

Round 13 – Friday, March 4
Ulster v Cardiff | 19.35 UK / 20.35 ITA / 21.35 SA | BBC NI, BBC Wales, RTÉ 2, Premier Sports
Edinburgh v Connacht | 19.35 UK / 20.35 ITA / 21.35 SA | Premier Sports, TG4
Saturday, March 5
Benetton v Leinster | 12.55 UK / 13.55 ITA / 14.55 SA | Mediaset, RTÉ 2, Premier Sports
Scarlets v Glasgow Warriors | 17.15 UK / 18.15 ITA / 19.15 SA | Premier Sports
Munster v Dragons | 17.15 UK / 18.15 ITA / 19.15 SA | TG4, S4C, Premier Sports
Sunday, March 6
Ospreys v Zebre Parma | 14.00 UK / 15.00 ITA / 16.00 SA | S4C, Mediaset, Premier Sports

Round 6 (rescheduled) – Weekend of March 11/12/13
DHL Stormers v Zebre Parma | TBC | Super Sport, Premier Sports
Cell C Sharks v Scarlets | TBC | Super Sport, S4C, Premier Sports
Vodacom Bulls v Munster | TBC | Super Sport, TG4, Premier Sports
Emirates Lions v Cardiff | TBC | Super Sport, S4C, Premier Sports

Round 7 (rescheduled) – Weekend of March 18/19/20
Vodacom Bulls v Scarlets | TBC  | Super Sport, BBC Wales, Premier Sports
Cell C Sharks v Zebre Parma | TBC | Super Sport, Italian TV, Premier Sports
Emirates Lions v Munster | TBC | Super Sport, RTE, Premier Sports
DHL Stormers v Cardiff | TBC | Super Sport, S4C, Premier Sports

Round 14 – Friday, March 25
Emirates Lions v Ospreys | 17.00 UK / 18.00 ITA / 19.00 SA | Super Sport, BBC Wales, Premier Sports
Munster v Benetton | 19.35 UK / 20.35 ITA / 21.35 SA | TG4, Mediaset, Premier Sports
Saturday, March 26
Zebre Parma v Scarlets | 13.00 UK / 14.00 ITA / 15.00 SA | Mediaset, BBC Wales, Premier Sports
DHL Stormers v Ulster | 13.00 UK / 14.00 ITA / 15.00 SA | Super Sport, Premier Sports
Cell C Sharks v Edinburgh | 15.05 UK / 16.05 ITA / 17.05 SA | Super Sport, Premier Sports
Cardiff v Glasgow Warriors | 17.15 UK / 18.15 ITA / 19.15 SA | Premier Sports
Vodacom Bulls v Dragons | 17.15 UK / 18.15 ITA / 19.15 SA | SuperSport, S4C, Premier Sports
Connacht v Leinster | 19.35 UK / 20.35 ITA / 21.35 SA | RTÉ 2, Premier Sports

Round 15 – Friday, April 1
Cell C Sharks v Dragons | 18.30 UK / 19.30 ITA & SA | Super Sport, BBC Wales, Premier Sports
Glasgow Warriors v Zebre Parma | 19.35 UK / 20.35 ITA & SA | Premier Sports, Mediaset
Saturday, April 2
Benetton v Connacht | 12.00 UK / 13.00 ITA & SA | Mediaset, RTÉ 2, Premier Sports
Vodacom Bulls v Ulster | 13.00 UK / 14.00 ITA & SA | SuperSport, Premier Sports
Emirates Lions v Edinburgh | 15.05 UK / 16.05 ITA & SA | Super Sport, Premier Sports
DHL Stormers v Ospreys | 17.15 UK / 18.15 ITA & SA | SuperSport, S4C, Premier Sports
Leinster v Munster | 19.00 UK / 20.00 ITA & SA | TG4, Premier Sports
Scarlets v Cardiff | 19.35 UK / 20.35 ITA & SA | Premier Sports

Round 13 (SA derbies) – Saturday, April 9
DHL Stormers v Vodacom Bulls | 13:00 UK / 14:00 ITA & SA | Super Sport, Premier Sport
Cell C Sharks v Emirates Lions | 15 :05 UK / 16 :05 ITA & SA | Super Sport, Premier Sport

Round 16 – Friday, April 22
DHL Stormers v Glasgow Warriors | 17.30 UK / 18.30 ITA & SA | SuperSport, Premier Sport
Ulster v Munster | 19.35 UK / 20.35 ITA & SA | BBC NI, RTÉ 2, Premier Sports
Edinburgh v Zebre Parma | 19.45 UK / 20.45 ITA & SA | Premier Sports, Mediaset
Saturday, April 23
Vodacom Bulls v Benetton | 13.00 UK / 14.00 ITA & SA | SuperSport, Mediaset, Premier Sports
Emirates Lions v Connacht | 15.05 UK / 16.05 ITA & SA | SuperSport, RTÉ 2, Premier Sports
Dragons v Scarlets | 15.00 UK / 16.00 ITA & SA | BBC Wales, Premier Sports
Cardiff v Ospreys | 17.15 UK / 18.15 ITA & SA | S4C, Premier Sports
Cell C Sharks v Leinster | 17.15 UK / 18.15 ITA & SA | SuperSport, TG4, Premier Sports

Round 17 – Friday, April 29
Vodacom Bulls v Glasgow Warriors | 18.00 UK / 19.00 ITA & SA | Super Sport, Premier Sports
Munster v Cardiff | 19.35 UK / 20.35 ITA & SA | TG4, BBC Wales, Premier Sports

Saturday, April 30
Emirates Lions v Benetton | 13.00 UK / 14.00 ITA & SA | Super Sport, Mediaset, Premier Sports
Cell C Sharks v Connacht | 15.05 UK / 16.05 ITA & SA | Super Sport, TG4, Premier Sports
Zebre Parma v Dragons | 15.05 UK / 16.05 ITA & SA | Mediaset, S4C, Premier Sports
DHL Stormers v Leinster | 17.15 UK / 18.15 ITA & SA | Super Sport, RTÉ 2, Premier Sports
Ospreys v Scarlets | 17.15 UK / 18.15 ITA & SA | Premier Sports
Edinburgh v Ulster | 19.35 UK / 20.35 ITA & SA | Premier Sports

Round 18 – Weekend of May 20/21/22 (to be confirmed in January 2022)
Connacht v Zebre Parma | TBC
Leinster v Edinburgh | TBC
Ulster v Cell C Sharks | TBC
Dragons v Emirates Lions | TBC
Scarlets v DHL Stormers | TBC
Ospreys v Vodacom Bulls | TBC
Glasgow Warriors v Munster | TBC
Benetton v Cardiff | TBC

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