United Rugby Championship: Here's all the clubs Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors will be facing this season

The United Rugby Championship, a new competition featuring the four South African Super Rugby franchises and 12 clubs from the Guinness Pro14, kicks off on Friday.

The new United Rugby Championship is due to kick off on September 24.

The 16-team league, forged from an agreement between PRO14 Rugby and SA Rugby, replaces the Pro14 and will feature both Scottish professional clubs Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors.

Although final positions will be decided by a single league table, teams are also divided into four regional pools: Italian & Scottish Pool – Benetton Rugby, Edinburgh Glasgow Warriors, Zebre Rugby Club; Irish Pool – Connacht, Leinster, Munster, Ulster; Welsh Pool – Dragons, Cardiff Rugby, Ospreys, Scarlets; South African Pool – Cell C Sharks, DHL Stormers, Emirates Lions and Vodacom Bulls.

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There will be 18 rounds of fixtures in the regular season comprimising six home and away fixtures played by each team in their pool. The remaining 12 games will be made from an even number of home or away games against the other teams in the league.

So Edinburgh and Glasgow will each play each other twice and each play Benetton and Zebre twice. The Scottish pro sides will then face the other 12 teams once only.

After 18 rounds of games, the top eight teams will qualify for the quarter-finals, followed by semi-finals and a final. Teams will be seeded from 1 to 8 and will receive home advantage according to their seeding for these fixtures.

The URC Grand Final venue will be decided later.

In arguably the most radical change the door is now open for the South African teams to qualify for the Heineken Champions Cup, Europe’s premier club rugby competition.

Eight teams from the United Rugby Championship will go into the following season’s Champions Cup.

Here is a profile of all the clubs taking part:

Edinburgh Rugby

Based: Edinburgh Rugby Stadium, Scotland

Head coach: Mike Blair

Captain(s): Grant Gilchrist and Stuart McInally

Key player: Hamish Watson, flanker - the 41-times capped Scotland international made his British & Ireland Lions debut this summer after being crowned the Player of the Tournament at the 2021 Six Nations.

Glasgow Warriors

Based: Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow, Scotland

Head coach: Danny Wilson

Captain(s): Ryan Wilson and Fraser Brown

Key player: Ali Price, scrum-half - The English-born 25-year-old, who has won 24 caps for Scotland, played in all three British & Irish Lions tests during the recent tour of South Africa.

Benetton

Based: Stadio Comunale di Monigo, Treviso, Italy

Head coach: Kieran Crowley

Captain(s): Dewaldt Duvenage and Michele Lamaro

Key player: Andries Coetzee, full-back - a key signing ahead of the new season, the experienced 31-year-old has been capped 13 times by South Africa and turned out 98 times for the Lions.

Bulls

Based: Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria, South Africa

Head coach: Jake White

Captain(s): Duane Vermeulen

Key player: Johan Goosen, fly-haf/full-back/outside centre - produced a man of the match performance in helping Montpellier win the European Challenge Cup final in 2021, and scored 99 points in 8 Currie Cup appearances after joining Bulls this summer.

Cardiff Rugby

Based: Cardiff Arms Park, Wales

Head coach: John Mulvihill

Captain(s): Ellis Jenkins

Key player: Josh Adams, wing/full-back - the Wales international was one of the stars for British & Irish Lions this summer, scoring eight tries in three matches, including two hat-tricks

Connacht

Based: Galway Sportsground, Ireland

Head coach: Andy Friend

Captain(s): Jarrard Butler

Key player: Bundee Aki, centre - the New Zealand-born Ireland internationals has been at the club sine 2014 and earned his first call up to the British & Irish Lions squad this year.

Dragons

Based: Rodney Parade, Newport, Wales

Director of Rugby: Dean Ryan

Captain(s): Rhodri Williams

Key player: Ross Moriarty, flanker - the Wales international missed out on the British & Irish Lions selection this summer due to the strength of the back row, having previously been called up in 2017.

Leinster

Based: Aviva Stadium and RDS Main Arena, Dublin, Ireland

Head coach: Leo Cullen

Captain(s): Jonny Sexton

Key player: Jonny Sexton, fly-half - the 36-year-old veteran is one of the highest points scorers in the history of rugby and won the World Rugby Player of the Year award as recently as 2018.

Lions

Based: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg, South Africa

Head coach: Ivan van Rooyen

Captain(s): Dan Kriel

Key player: Wandisile Simelane, outside centre - big things are expected from last year's SA Rugby Young Player of the Year, who has burst through to the national ranks after a series of explosive performances for the Lions.

Munster

Based: Musgrave Park and Thomond Park, Ireland

Head coach: Johann van Graan

Captain(s): Peter O'Mahony

Key player: Simon Zebo, wing/full-back - one of the most exciting players in world rugby returns to his native Irish province after three years in France with Racing 92.

Ospreys

Based: Liberty Stadium, Swansea, Wales

Head coach: Toby Booth

Captain(s): Justin Tipuric

Key player: Alun Wyn Jones, lock - the world's most-capped rugby union player, with 160 international appearances - 148 for Wales and 12 for the British & Irish Lions, who he has captained over the last three tours.

Scarlets

Based: Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli, Wales

Head coach: Dwayne Peel

Captain(s): Ken Owens

Key player: Liam Williams, wing/full-back - regarded as one of the most exciting attacking talents in world rugby due to a combination of consistency and box-office entertainment. Featured in his second Lions tour this year.

Sharks

Based: Jonsson Kings Park Stadium, Durban, South Africa

Head coach: Sean Everitt

Captain(s): Phepsi Buthelezi and Lukhanyo Am

Key player: Siya Kolisi, back row - the 29-year-old Springboks World Cup-winning skipper is a hugely influential figure but will be missing from Sharks opening URC games due to his international commitments.

Stormers

Based: Newlands Rugby Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa

Head coach: John Dobson

Captain(s): Salmaan Moerat and ‎Ernst van Rhyn

Key player: Tim Swiel, fly-half - the former Harlequins and Newcastle Falcons star pulled off a couple of match-winning kicks in the Rainbow Cup

Ulster

Based: Kingspan Stadium, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Head coach: Dan McFarland

Captain(s): Iain Henderson

Key player: Jacob Stockdale, wing/full-back - His footwork, pace, strength and ability to beat defenders make him a potent finisher as his title of Ireland’s most consistent try scorer testifies.

Zebre

Based: Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma, Italy

Head coach: Michael Bradley

Captain(s): Giulio Bisegni

Key player: Luca Bigi, hooker - the current captain of Italy is fiercely proud player and leader and will be at the forefront of the set-piece battle.

The opening weekend fixtures are as follows:

Friday, September 24: Zebre v Lions, Cardiff v Connacht, Ulster v Glasgow Warriors.

Saturday, September 25: Benetton v Stormers, Edinburgh v Scarlets, Leinster v Bulls, Munster v Sharks.

Sunday, September 26: Dragons Vs Ospreys

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