United Rugby Championship’s inaugural season shrouded in uncertainty

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The first United Rugby Championship season, due to take place in 2021/22, has been thrown into doubt due to reports that South African teams are still unable to enter the United Kingdom.

Afrikaans language newspaper Rapport has run a story this morning that the four former Super Rugby franchises from the country; Stormers, Sharks, Lions and Bulls, cannot enter the UK without having to spend 10 days in quarantine as South Africa is currently on the red list for all four countries.

There is also concern that any UK teams travel to South Africa for away games will have to quarantine for 10 days in their return to the country as there are no exemptions for fully vaccinated persons or elite sports at this time.

A suggestion has been made that the four South African sides could be based at a neutral venue, presumably either on mainland Europe or in Ireland, who it is understood do make exemptions for elite sports in their travel rules, but UK sides could then be faced with losing two more home games in a competition that has already cut down the amount of fixtures from last season.

Reports in Sunday’s Rugby Paper have also described the Stormers as “close to bankruptcy”, leaving them little room for manoeuvre when it comes to work arounds such as chartered flights and covid secure hotel bubbles.

Generally the league’s fixtures are produced in mid-late July, but with the season due to start in less than 50 days there are still no sign of any announcements from the URC, with a knock-on effect being the delay of fixture announcements for European competitions.

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