If Round 1 is anything to go by, United Rugby Championship fans are in for a real treat this season. With teams welcoming fans back into the stadiums, more than 400 points were accumulated across the eight matches and there was an average of more than six tries per game.
With teams welcoming fans back into the stadiums, more than 400 points were accumulated across the eight matches and there was an average of more than six tries per game.
Six of the eight victorious clubs secured a bonus-point win with just Connacht, Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Bulls left without a point. The round two action sees PRO14 champions Leinster head to Dragons while last season's finalists Munster host South African side DHL Stormers at Thomond Park.
Connacht and the Bulls meet at the Sportsground on Friday with both teams seeking to get off the mark, and Scarlets host the Emirates Lions on the same night. Rainbow Cup champions Benetton bid to make it two wins from two against Edinburgh in Parma, Glasgow Warriors and the Sharks clash at Scotstoun Stadium, and Ulster travel to Zebre.
The Ospreys face another Welsh derby - having beaten the Dragons last week - against Cardiff on home soil.
FRI - Connacht v Vodacom Bulls
Sportsground, Galway | KO 19:35 UK | Live on Premier Sports, TG4
Connacht and the Vodacom Bulls will be seeking to claim their first points of the season after Round 1 defeats to Cardiff and Leinster respectively.
The Irish province have not lost their opening two matches in a league campaign since 2016/17 and will be boosted by their solid record when playing South African teams.
They have won eight of their nine meetings, with the defeat coming by just one point when going down to the Cheetahs in March 2018. The Bulls head to Ireland for their first encounter with Connacht having last won away from South Africa against the Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby in 2019.
FRI - Scarlets v Emirates Lions
Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli | KO 19:35 UK | Live on Premier Sports, TG4
These two sides had contrasting fortunes in Round 1, with the Scarlets losing to Edinburgh in another thriller while the Emirates Lions beat Zebre in Parma.
Scarlets must improve on a record of just one win in four matches at this venue in all competitions - their last victory overall coming at home to the Ospreys in May. They have also won eight of their nine meetings with South African opposition, while the Lions have not claimed successive victories since beating Eastern Province and the Sharks in March.
The last time the Lions triumphed in back-to-back away matches outside South Africa was in early 2019 when they beat the Jaguares and the Sunwolves in Buenos Aires and Singapore respectively.
SAT - Benetton v Edinburgh
Stadio Monigo, Treviso | KO 14:00 UK | Live on Premier Sports, Mediaset
Benetton and Edinburgh earned new coaches Marco Bortolami and Mike Blair victory in Round 1, with the Scottish side also adding a bonus point.
The Italian club have now won seven successive matches following last season’s Rainbow Cup success and have reeled off five in a row at home since losing to Cardiff in March. Edinburgh ended a four-game winless run in the competition when edging the Scarlets in another thriller at their new Dam Health Stadium home.
But they have not won away from home since a one-point victory at Connacht in March, and their last victory at this venue came in October 2017.
SAT – Glasgow Warriors v Cell C Sharks
Scotstoun, Glasgow | KO 15:00 UK | Live on Premier Sports, Mediaset
Glasgow and Cell C Sharks made losing starts to the new season, although Danny Wilson’s Warriors did pick up two losing bonus points in a 35-29 away defeat to Ulster.
The Scottish club saw their four-game winning run come to an end in the process, but they have triumphed in four on the spin at this venue since losing to Ulster in February. The Sharks, missing five South Africa stars including captain Siya Kolisi, went down to a heavy loss to Munster which followed their Currie Cup defeat to the Vodacom Bulls.
Sean Everitt’s troops will be chasing their first victory outside South Africa since a 33-23 Super Rugby success over the Queensland Reds in February 2020.
SAT - Zebre v Ulster
Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma | KO 15:15 UK | Live on Premier Sports
Zebre lost their URC opener at home to the Lions, albeit picking up a first bonus point since January 2020, while Ulster prevailed against Glasgow.
The Italians have lost nine on the spin and not beaten an Irish province since besting Connacht 19-11 in Galway in February 2018. Ulster have lost only once to Italian opponents since 2014, away to Zebre in September 2017. Their domination of Zebre has seen them lose just twice to them in 15 previous meetings, both in the PRO14 in Parma in 2014 and 2017.
SAT - Munster v DHL Stormers
Thomond Park, Limerick | KO 19:35 UK | Live on Premier Sports, RTE
This will be the first time the two sides have met in a competitive fixture. Munster’s only defeat in their last six URC matches was a 24-20 home loss to Connacht in the Rainbow Cup.
The Irish province's only loss to South African opposition in the Championship was to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in October 2019. The Stormers have lost their last three URC games and not won outside South Africa since an April 2019 Super Rugby victory over the Rebels.
SAT - Ospreys v Cardiff
Swansea.com Stadium, Swansea | KO 19:35 UK | Live on Premier Sports
Ospreys enjoy derby affairs having won five of their last seven clashes against fellow Welsh regions.
Cardiff’s only defeat in their last five matches was to Munster in last season's Rainbow Cup.
The capital side have lost just twice of their last eight Welsh derbies, both against Ospreys.
Ospreys won both encounters between the two teams last season and Cardiff’s only away victory in the fixture since their initial visit in December 2005 came nearly two years ago.
SUN - Dragons v Leinster
Rodney Parade, Newport | KO 14:00 UK | Live on Premier Sports, S4C, RTE
Leinster's tight hold over Dragons stretches back nearly six years and 10 fixtures.
The Irish province have not succumbed to the Welsh region since a 23-13 defeat at Rodney Parade in January 2016. Dragons' most recent victory over an Irish province was a 21-8 win over Connacht in September 2017, although they did draw 32-32 at home to Ulster the following December. Leinster have lost only once to a Welsh region since September 2018 - 24-19 to Ospreys in the PRO14 in March.