UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP: SA teams struggle in early stages of URC due to lack of Boks and tough draws

UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP: SA teams struggle in early stages of URC due to lack of Boks and tough draws

The United Rugby Championship (URC) might only be into its third edition, but it has never had only one team from South Africa in the top eight after five rounds of action. 

That is the reality of the situation in 2023. Only the Bulls sit in a playoff position nearly a third of the way through the regular season — and they are languishing in seventh place.

There is still a lot of rugby to be played and the situation will continue to alter weekly. The Bulls fell from first at the end of round four to seventh at the end of round five, underlining how tight it is.

Last weekend, though, was only the second time in the tournament’s history that all four South African sides lost in the same round. It happened in round two of the inaugural 2021/22 season, but on that occasion, all four SA sides were on tour. 

This past weekend, the Sharks enjoyed home-ground advantage against Connacht, losing 13-12 for their sixth straight defeat of the season.

Other than centre Lukhanyo Am, who made his comeback for the Sharks last week, the rest of the Springbok’s triumphant World Cup-winning squad were on the sidelines to recover.

Am looked sharp in his first outing for three months, with some deft touches and solid defence against the Irish side. But even his presence was not enough to guide the Sharks to their first win of the campaign.

The Stormers lost 10-3 in difficult conditions in Limerick against defending champions Munster in a repeat of last year’s final, which wasn’t a disaster. But they are now 2-3 on the season.

The Bulls are 3-2 after losing 31-23 to Edinburgh in Edinburgh where they played with 14 men for much of the match and 13 men for 10 minutes. 

The Lions fought hard in treacherous conditions against Ulster before going down 24-17. Despite the defeats, there were many good moments for the SA teams.

The draw has been tough on some sides, such as the Sharks, who started their campaign with four games on the road including match-ups against Irish powerhouses Munster and Leinster.

sa teams urc jake white

Bulls coach Jake White. (Photo: Tyler Miller/Gallo Images)

The Bulls have just compl

…. to be continued
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