The second season of Vodacom United Rugby Championship kicks off next month and like the 2021/22 edition, the Cell C Sharks are drawn to spend their first three matches on the road.
Like the hugely successful inaugural season, the URC pits 16 clubs across five international territories against one another in a demanding, eight month schedule, commencing on 16 September 2022. with the pool stages ending on 23 April 2023 followed by the knock-out rounds and then the final on 27 May.
The URC format will see all 16 teams ranked across a single table which will reward the top eight teams with their places in the Final Eight (quarter-finals), followed by a Final Four (semi-finals) to set the stage for the Grand Final.
The Cell C Sharks’ preparations have started in earnest as they look to build on their top five finish in the recent campaign, as the find themselves in a tough pre-season training period.
“The guys had a good four week break and returned to training on 18 July,” Cell C Sharks head coach Sean Everitt explains. “The first week was a bit of a de-load week to see where the guys were physically after having given them an active programme to follow for the last two weeks of their break. They came back in a good shape and we’re very happy with where they are at the moment.
“As always after a good break, there’s a lot of energy; the guys are happy to be back and in each others’ company. This bodes well for us as we go into a period where everyone will be working extremely hard.
“We’ve identified areas where we need to improve on and get better at, but there aren’t massive changes that need to be made but we’re certainly working on the detail and accuracy in our execution of attack and defence.”
Although the competition kicks off on Saturday 17 September, the Cell C Sharks will only play their first round match in February, starting their campaign the following week on the road with three matches in Europe.
The 18 rounds are (with broadcast selections and kick-off times to be confirmed in early August):
- Friday, September 23 / Saturday, September 24 / Sunday, September 25
Zebre Parma v Cell C Sharks
- Friday, September 30 / Saturday, October 1 / Sunday, October 2
Dragons RFC v Cell C Sharks
- Friday, October 7 / Saturday, October 8 / Sunday, October 9
Leinster v Cell C Sharks
- Friday, October 14 / Saturday, October 15 / Sunday, October 16
Cell C Sharks v Glasgow Warriors
- Friday, October 21 / Saturday, October 22 / Sunday, October 23
Cell C Sharks v Ulster
- Friday, November 25 / Saturday, November 26 / Sunday, November 27
Cell C Sharks v Cardiff Rugby
- Friday, December 2 / Saturday, December 3 / Sunday, December 4
Cell C Sharks v Ospreys
- Friday, December 23 / Saturday, December 24 / Monday, December 26
Cell C Sharks v Emirates Lions
- Friday, December 30 / Saturday, December 31 / Sunday, January 1
Cell C Sharks v Vodacom Bulls
- Friday, January 6 / Saturday, January 7 / Sunday, January 8
Connacht v Cell C Sharks
- Friday, January 27 / Saturday, January 28 / Sunday, January 29
Edinburgh Rugby v Cell C Sharks
- Friday, February 3 / Saturday, February 4 / Sunday, February 5
Cell C Sharks v DHL Stormers
- Friday, February 10 / Saturday, February 11
Vodacom Bulls v Cell C Sharks
- Friday, February 17 / Saturday, February 18 / Sunday, February 19
Emirates Lions v Cell C Sharks
- Friday, March 3 / Saturday, March 4 / Sunday, March 5
DHL Stormers v Cell C Sharks
- Friday, March 24 / Saturday, March 25 / Sunday, March 26
Scarlets v Cell C Sharks
- Friday, April 14 / Saturday, April 15 / Sunday, April 16
Cell C Sharks v Benetton
- Friday, April 21 / Saturday, April 22 / Sunday, April 23
Cell C Sharks v Munster