Springboks win again! SA teams by the far most popular among United Rugby Championship viewers

Stormers fans cheer during the United Rugby Championship final match between the Stormers and Munster at the Cape Town stadium in Cape Town

Indeed, nine of the 10 most watched matches during the season involved South African teams, with only Leinster v Munster the outlier. Seen here: Stormers fans cheer on his team. Picture: Rodger Bosch/AFP

Published Jul 11, 2023

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The first round of the next season of the United Rugby Championship has been revealed.

Posting the dates to social media on Monday, the URC confirmed that the 2023/24 season will start on the weekend of October 21, with the full fixtures to be released later on Tuesday. The date means that the Rugby World Cup 2023 and the URC will run concurrently for two weekends, including the semi-finals and possibly the final, too.

On Monday, the URC also released its impressive viewership figures for this last season.

The total broadcast audience saw an 8% increase on the 2021/22 season to record 37.4million viewers. Five rounds had an audience of two million-plus, while 12 rounds had an audience of 1.5million-plus.

The play-offs viewership increased to 4.02m, a 5% increase, with an average 575 000 viewers per game. The final between the Stormers and Munster reached over a million viewers.

Munster, the Sharks, Bulls, Stormers and Connacht were the most watched teams, while the most watched regular season match was Stormers v Munster which recorded 688 903 viewers. Indeed, nine of the 10 most watched matches during the season involved South African teams, with only Leinster v Munster the outlier.

“It has been a record-setting year for the URC in terms of attendances and now to set a new bar for TV audiences is a testament to new levels of interest that surround our league,” URC CEO Marin Anayi said on unitedrugby.com.

“We’ve worked hard to establish the URC as the rising force in the rugby industry and having recently broken beyond one million social media followers we can see that fans are responding to what we have created by going to stadiums, watching at home and engaging through their favourite digital media platforms.

“On the pitch we have seen the new format deliver more jeopardy and surprise results. The mix of playing styles and cultures within the league is providing an appeal that is very unique in rugby.

“This type of growth in audiences and attendances do not happen without our broadcast partners and teams playing their part and they all deserve great credit for this achievement,” he concluded.

Top 10 Most Watched Matches in Regular Season

1 DHL Stormers v Munster 688 903

2 Connacht v Cell C Sharks 584 765

3 Ulster v DHL Stormers 543 964

4 Emirates Lions v Leinster 503 228

5 Cell C Sharks v DHL Stormers 501 618

6 Ulster v Vodacom Bulls 495 527

7 Cell C Sharks v Ospreys 493 776

8 DHL Stormers v Vodacom Bulls 490 829

9 Leinster v Munster 456 559

10 Vodacom Bulls v Cardiff 448 654

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