Skip to content
GO TO bet365 Sports
  1. Rugby Union

United Rugby Championship: Dates, teams, history & more

The United Rugby Championship is an annual competition that involves clubs teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Wales.

It is the highest level of competition in those countries and the third major professional league in Europe alongside the English Premiership and the French Top 14.

Its most successful teams can compete in the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, and South African teams have been eligible to qualify for these competitions since the 2022-23 season.

United Rugby Championship dates

The URC season commences on Friday 20th September and continues through until 17th May, with each side playing 18 regular season games.

The post-season then begins with the quarter-finals taking place across Friday 30th and Saturday 31st May.

The semi-finals are scheduled for Saturday 7th June while the grand final is diarised for the following week on Saturday 14th June.

United Rugby Championship teams

A total of 16 teams will take part in the United Rugby Championship:

Ireland: Leinster, Munster, Connacht, Ulster
Italy: Benetton, Zebre Parma
Scotland: Edinburgh, Glasgow Warriors
South Africa: South Africa: Sharks, Bulls, Stormers, Lions
Wales: Ospreys, Dragons, Cardiff, Scarlets

United Rugby Championship venues

The 2024/25 season will take place at the following venues:

Ireland: RDS Arena; Aviva Stadium; Thomond Park; Dexcom Stadium; Musgrove Park; Ravenhill Stadium
Italy: Stadio Comunale di Monigo; Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Scotland: Edinburgh Rugby Stadium; Murrayfield; Scotstoun Stadium
South Africa: Loftus Versfeld Stadium; Ellis Park; Kings Park Stadium; Cape Town Stadium
Wales: Cardiff Arms Park; Rodney Parade; Swansea.com Stadium; Parc y Scarlets

How to watch the United Rugby Championship

The United Rugby Championship is available to watch on Viaplay Sports, while selected games are also televised on BBC Wales, S4C (Welsh language) and BBC Northern Ireland.

United Rugby Championship format

Each team plays 18 regular-season matches hoping to qualify for the play-offs, which consist of quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final.

There are four regional pools: the Irish pool (consisting of the four Irish teams), a Welsh pool (the four Welsh teams), a South African pool (the four South African teams) and the Scottish & Italian pool (the two Scottish teams and the two Italian teams).

A Regional trophy is awarded for each pool winner but they have no bearing on European Champions Cup qualification, which will go to the top eight teams in the Championship table.

Each team plays their three pool rivals twice, once at home and once away. They play each of 12 teams in the other pools once either at home or away.

The top eight teams then go through to the quarter-finals, with those seeded one to four gaining home advantage.

The winners will then go through to the semi-finals and subsequently the Grand Final, which will be hosted by the highest-seeded team.

United Rugby Championship schedule

The opening round of fixtures sees two matches on the opening day, with Cardiff hosting last season’s bottom side Zebre Parma as well as Edinburgh hosting Leinster.

There are two all South African affairs as the Sharks host the Lions in the early kick-off on Saturday before the Stormers take on the Bulls.

Last season’s champions Glasgow Warriors start their title defence with a trip to Ulster, while the remaining fixtures sees Benetton take on Scarlets, Connacht making the trip to Munster and an all-Welsh encounter between Dragons and Ospreys.

United Rugby Championship history

The league started life as the Welsh-Scottish League in 1999 and became known as the Celtic League once Irish teams were invited to take part.

It was then expanded to 12 teams from ten in 2010 when two Italian teams were introduced and the Pro12 was born.

It became the Pro14 when the Cheetahs and the Southern Kings came in from South Africa after being axed by Super Rugby.

Subsequently, the Kings were liquidated and the Cheetahs withdrew, but four South African teams - the Lions, Stormers, Sharks and Bulls - entered the competition in 2021.

Irish side Munster finished top of the pile last season, but failed to reach the Grand Final, as Glasgow Warriors edged past the Bulls to claim only their second United Rugby Championship.

Leinster have won the Championship eight times, with Munster and Ospreys their closest rivals with four title triumphs each.

Glasgow and Scarlets have won a duo of Championships, while there have also been sole successes for Ulster, Connacht and Stormers.

Rugby Union

Related Articles

bet365 uses cookies

We use cookies to deliver a better and more personalised service. For more information, see our Cookie Policy

New to bet365? Bet £10 & Get £30 in Free Bets Join Now

Min deposit requirement. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits and are available for use upon settlement of qualifying bets. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply.