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URC statement: Where the 2022 final will be played

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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United Rugby Championship officials have finally ended speculation that South Africa was poised to automatically stage the final of the 201/22 URC season, instead confirming that the highest ranked team in the end-of-term showpiece will be able to host the match in their home ground. 

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This is the first year which the revamped tournament has included the four star South African franchises in the competition, the Bulls, the Sharks, the Stormers and the Lions all exiting Super Rugby and replacing the pioneering duo, the Cheetahs and the Kings, in the old PRO14 line-up. 

It was last month when it emerged that the 2022 final could potentially be staged in South Africa with a view to broadening the appeal of the tournament that also features teams from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy.  

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With the South African teams flying up the table in recent months, ex-Scotland international Jim Hamilton claimed on The Rugby Pod that the final was poised to be played in the southern hemisphere for the first time to showcase the competition to a new audience.   

“It has not been formalised yet but what I am hearing, because there is a lot of who knows, is that the final is going to be in South Africa. So having a final in South Africa will be class as a commentator,” said the pundit. 

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However, that idea has now been quashed in the same week that Leinster boss Leo Cullen criticised the speculation of having a designated venue final rather than allowing the highest ranked team to host the decider. Cullen said: “In the short term in my opinion it would be the team that finishes top gets the advantage similar to the way it was in Super Rugby.”

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A URC statement has now read: “The 2022 United Rugby Championship grand final shall take place at the home venue of the highest-ranked team where the first-ever URC champions will be crowned.

“This announcement will heighten the importance for teams in the URC playoff hunt to pick up every available point over the remaining 28 regular season fixtures. Among those games are twelve clashes between north and south, 14 head-to-heads between teams currently in playoff contention in addition to eight derby matches.”

URC CEO Martin Anayi added: “With some thrilling rugby ahead of us the time is right to confirm our plans for the first-ever United Rugby Championship grand final. For this campaign, it is important to understand how our teams and their fans are returning to normality after so long away from stadia and that our job is to deliver the best URC grand final we can in these circumstances.

“The reward of the highest-ranked team hosting the URC grand final adds even more to the competitive edge over the closing rounds of the league that will set us up for an incredible playoffs which now showcases our best eight teams in a battle to reach the URC grand final.”

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The merit-based format to decide the venue for the URC final was previously used between 2010 and 2014 for those season deciders and again in 2020 and 2021.

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