United Rugby Championship: South African teams to sit out opening round

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Stormers celebrate with the URC trophyStormers had never won the Super Rugby title but now boast silverware from their maiden league campaign in Europe

The South African sides will sit out the opening week of the United Rugby Championship (URC) when the season kicks off in September.

The four teams, including champions Stormers, will play their first matches in the second week of the tournament.

South Africa will host two derbies during the first week of the Six Nations in February when the other 12 sides will sit out the fixtures.

Broadcast selections and kick-off times are set to be confirmed next week.

In Wales, Scarlets will host Ospreys in a derby on the opening weekend, while the two sides will also face each other in the Christmas derby, with the league reverting to the traditional west and east derbies.

All four Welsh professional sides are due to travel to South Africa for two weekends of games at the end of November and early December.

The first of those weekends will clash with Wales' final autumn match against Australia, which is played outside World Rugby's international window.

The final round of regular action will be in April 2023, with the domestic season finishing earlier because of the 2023 World Cup in France.

"The diversity of our league we so proudly celebrate, is also a reason for the immense complexity of putting together our season two fixtures," said URC chief executive Martin Anayi.

"This is a monumental task, and it takes many stakeholders many long hours dedicated to making this the best club rugby championship in the world.

"We have to consider a variety of factors across our 16 clubs and five territories, but we believe that our season schedule will give our fans the best rugby week in and week out.

"My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who has worked tirelessly to put together a blockbuster fixture list right from round one.

"We have seen the success of our tournament format culminating in the grandest of Grand Finals last season and we look forward to going on this journey with our fans and with our stakeholders to another successful year of world-class rugby in action."

United Rugby Championship fixtures

Round one

16/17/18 September

Benetton v Glasgow

Cardiff v Munster

Zebre v Leinster

Scarlets v Ospreys

Edinburgh v Dragons

Ulster v Connacht

3/4 February

Stormers v Sharks

Lions v Bulls

Round two

23/24/25 September

Zebre v Sharks

Glasgow v Cardiff

Leinster v Benetton

Scarlets v Ulster

Bulls v Edinburgh

Stormers v Connacht

Ospreys v Lions

Dragons v Munster

Round three

30 September/1/2 October

Cardiff v Lions

Ulster v Leinster

Stormers v Edinburgh

Bulls v Connacht

Ospreys v Glasgow

Munster v Zebre

Benetton v Scarlets

Dragons v Sharks

Round four

7/8/9 October

Connacht v Munster

Edinburgh v Lions

Zebre v Stormers

Leinster v Sharks

Scarlets v Cardiff

Glasgow v Bulls

Ulster v Ospreys

Benetton v Dragons

Round five

14/15/16 October

Ospreys v Stormers

Munster v Bulls

Lions v Ulster

Sharks v Glasgow

Edinburgh v Benetton

Cardiff v Dragons

Scarlets v Zebre,

Connacht v Leinster

Round six

21/22/23 October

Benetton v Bulls

Connacht v Scarlets

Zebre v Edinburgh

Lions v Glasgow

Sharks v Ulster

Cardiff v Stormers

Leinster v Munster

Dragons v Ospreys

Round seven

28/29/30 October

Scarlets v Leinster

Glasgow v Benetton

Munster v Ulster

Dragons v Zebre

Ospreys v Connacht

Cardiff v Edinburgh

10/11 February

Bulls v Sharks

Lions v Stormers

Round eight

25/26/27 November

Stormers v Scarlets

Ulster v Zebre

Bulls v Ospreys

Benetton v Edinburgh

Leinster v Glasgow

Munster v Connacht

Lions v Dragons

Sharks v Cardiff

Round nine

2/3/4 December

Sharks v Ospreys

Edinburgh v Munster

Stormers v Dragons

Zebre v Glasgow

Connacht v Benetton

Bulls v Cardiff

Leinster v Ulster

Lions v Scarlets

Round 10

23/24/26 December

Sharks v Lions

Stormers v Bulls

Glasgow v Edinburgh

Benetton v Zebre

Connacht v Ulster

Ospreys v Scarlets

Munster v Leinster

Dragons v Cardiff

Round 11

31 December/1 January

Edinburgh v Glasgow

Zebre v Benetton

Sharks v Bulls

Stormers v Lions

Cardiff v Ospreys

Scarlets v Dragons

Ulster v Munster

Leinster v Connacht

Round 12

6/7/8 January

Munster v Lions

Dragons v Bulls

Benetton v Ulster

Glasgow v Stormers

Cardiff v Scarlets

Connacht v Sharks

Ospreys v Leinster

Edinburgh v Zebre

Round 13

27/28/29 January

Ulster v Stormers

Scarlets v Bulls

Benetton v Munster

Dragons v Glasgow

Leinster v Cardiff

Edinburgh v Sharks

Connacht v Lions

Zebre v Ospreys

Round 14

17/18/19 February

Glasgow v Ulster

Munster v Ospreys

Lions v Sharks

Bulls v Stormers

Zebre v Connacht

Scarlets v Edinburgh

Cardiff v Benetton

Leinster v Dragons

Round 15

3/4/5 March

Glasgow v Zebre

Munster v Scarlets

Bulls v Lions

Stormers v Sharks

Edinburgh v Leinster

Ospreys v Benetton

Cardiff v Ulster

Dragons v Connacht

Round 16

24/25/26 March

Zebre v Cardiff

Leinster v Stormers

Benetton v Lions

Ospreys v Dragons

Connacht v Edinburgh

Munster v Glasgow

Scarlets v Sharks

Ulster v Bulls

Round 17

14/15/16 April

Sharks v Benetton

Glasgow v Scarlets

Ulster v Dragons

Lions v Leinster

Bulls v Zebre

Stormers v Munster

Connacht v Cardiff

Edinburgh v Ospreys

Round 18

21/22/23 April

Stormers v Benetton

Ulster v Edinburgh

Lions v Zebre

Dragons v Scarlets

Bulls v Leinster

Ospreys v Cardiff

Sharks v Munster

Glasgow v Connacht

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