With four rounds and 32 matches left to play in this season’s URC, there are plenty of permutations remaining.

Glasgow should be set for a spot in the top four while Edinburgh look well capable of making the top eight – which means there is a chance that the two Scottish pro teams could go head-to-head in the play-offs for the first time ever.

Previous history gives a bit of an indication of what teams might require, although it looks like this season’s leading quartet might end up with points tallies higher than 2021/22 but lower than 2022/23.

First place (home quarter-final v eighth ranked side, home semi-final, home final)
67 points in 2021/22; 79 points in 2022/23

Second place (home quarter-final v seventh ranked side, home semi-final)
61 points in 2021/22; 68 points in 2022/23

Third place (home quarter-final v sixth ranked side)
59 points in 2021/22; 68 points in 2022/23

Fourth place (home quarter-final v fifth ranked side)
58 points in 2021/22; 63 points in 2022/23

Fifth to eighth places (away quarter-final)
57 - 50 points in 2021/22; 55 - 48 points in 2022/23


The Fight for the Top Four

The remaining fixtures for the current top four in the URC are:

1. Leinster (54 points)
Stormers (6th); OSPREYS (7th); Ulster (10th); CONNACHT (9th)

2. Glasgow (53 points)
Zebre (16th); Bulls (4th); Lions (11th); ZEBRE (16th)

3. Munster (48 points)
Lions (11th); CONNACHT (9th); Edinburgh (8th); ULSTER (10th)

4. Bulls (46 points)
OSPREYS (7th); GLASGOW (2nd); BENETTON (5th); Sharks (13th)

Home fixtures in capitals

Glasgow’s run in

The Warriors know that nine points will almost certainly secure them at least fourth place and a home quarter-final.

Three wins and 15 match points will guarantee them a top two placing and a home semi-final (if they progress) no matter results elsewhere.

If they can take one more point from their four remaining games than Leinster do from their fixtures, as well as overturn an 11-point deficit in points difference, then first place in the league - and home advantage all the way to the final - could be a very real possibility.

To maximise their chances of finishing as high up the league table as possible, Glasgow need to target two bonus points from their games against Zebre.

There have been 11 victories out of 11 at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi for the Warriors, with nine try bonus points and an average winning margin of 21 points.

At home to the same opposition those stats are 10 from 10, with nine try BPs and a 36 point average margin.

The tour to South Africa will provide a hefty challenge. Logistically, the club will benefit from having no remaining European fixtures and therefore a week off both before and after travelling to the Southern Hemisphere.

Preparation will be key for fixtures against a powerful Bulls’ side with their own designs on a top two finish, followed by an explosive Lions’ outfit at altitude in Johannesburg.

Glasgow won their first two matches in South Africa – both against the Cheetahs, both with a try bonus point – but since getting torn apart by the Southern Kings in 2018, the Warriors have lost six in a row to the provinces by an average margin of 20 points, and have only two try BPs to show for their efforts and the thousands of miles travelled.

63 points are unlikely to be enough to keep the Scottish side ahead of either Munster or the Bulls, so it's absolutely vital that Glasgow return home with one win at the very least.

The Warriors’ chances of reaching the URC final would be massively enhanced by finishing in the top two. Their chances of winning a final would be significantly higher if it was to be held in Scotland as reward for ending the regular season in first place.

There is the opportunity to achieve something very special at the end of this campaign and as things stand it’s in Glasgow’s own hands to make it happen.

The Race to the Eight

Just a single point separates six teams between sixth and eleventh place in the league table, with Benetton just a couple of points further ahead in fifth.

The remaining fixtures for these sides are:

5. Benetton (42 points)
Ulster (10th); Sharks (13th); Bulls (4th); EDINBURGH (8th)

6. Stormers (40 points)
LEINSTER (1st); Dragons (15th); Connacht (9th); LIONS (11th)

7. Ospreys (40 points)
Bulls (4th); Leinster (1st); DRAGONS (15th); Cardiff (12th)

8. Edinburgh (39 points)
Cardiff (12th); ZEBRE (16th); MUNSTER (3rd); Benetton (5th)

9. Connacht (39 points)
Dragons (15th); Munster (3rd); STORMERS (6th); Leinster (1st)

10. Ulster (39 points)
BENETTON (5th); Scarlets (14th); LEINSTER (1st); Munster (3rd)

11. Lions (39 points)
MUNSTER (3rd); CARDIFF (12th); GLASGOW (2nd); Stormers (6TH)

Home fixtures in capitals

Edinburgh’s run in

Ensuring mathematical certainty of making the play-offs would require Edinburgh to secure 19 points.

That is not outwith the bounds of possibility for the capital club but realistically not all the teams around them are going to take the theoretical maximum available points from the remainder of the campaign.

A more likely level for entry to the post season would seem to be around the 50 / 51-point mark when the remaining fixtures are considered.

That should mean that three wins out of four will be enough to put Edinburgh solidly into the top eight when the regular season comes to a close.

In fact even just a couple more wins might well be enough to push them into the play-offs but targeting at least three gives a bit more room for manoeuvre.

The home game against Zebre has to be the number one target for a win – something that has happened on eight out of the nine occasions the Italian side have visited the capital.

It hasn’t always been easy though:

  • 2017/18 – 69th minute penalty for a winning margin of one point.
  • 2021/22 – 77th minute penalty for a winning margin of three points.
  • 2022/23 – 78th minute try for a winning margin of seven points.

Next in line on the priority list will be the Round 15 fixture in Cardiff. The early years of the PRO12 and PRO14 saw Edinburgh return home from Wales with only one victory from six attempts.

They have subsequently turned that on its head and have won three out of their last four, although all from relatively close contests.

It’s also worth noting that the Welsh side have picked up nine losing bonus points from their ten losses this season and are a difficult side to put away.

Realistically the away trip to Treviso provides a better chance of a third win than the home contest against Munster.

Benetton have won their last four games versus Edinburgh at the Stadio di Monigo – all by narrow margins though (8, 2, 1 and 7 points). The visitors have come away with the victory four times since the start of the PRO12 era (11 matches).

Which only leaves Munster. The Irish province specialise in upping their game around this time in the season and already boast an enviable record in Edinburgh, winning eight of the last ten, with no home victories for six years.

Maintaining their strong league form at the Hive and turning over Munster would be a statement win but this definitely ranks as the least likely game to bring four (or five) points.

A dozen wins would be Edinburgh’s best return in the league bar the 15 they managed during the 2017/18 campaign (a 21-game season).

It would provide an excellent foundation for Sean Everitt to build on at the end of his first season in charge.

While the any playoff fixture would likely be away from home, for Edinburgh the pressure would be off.

If they are able to get as close as possible to their strongest lineup on the pitch and treat it like a free hit, they have the personnel to make life awkward for most sides – particularly if they ended up seeded to play Glasgow...

Champions Cup Qualification

The removal of Champions Cup qualifying spots from each of the URC Shields ought to have simplified the process around this. Top 8 equals qualified for the play-offs. Top 8 also equals qualified for the 2024/25 Champions Cup.

The contrasting fortunes of the Sharks in domestic and European competition adds another potential wrinkle though. The South African side are currently in the depths of the URC but if they go on and win the Challenge Cup that brings with it a spot in next season’s Champions Cup.

In that scenario, the eighth placed URC side will miss the top competition and drop into the Challenge Cup.

Edinburgh in particular need to be wary and see seventh place as the absolute minimum return – and, of course, ideally higher.

Potential Playoff Permutations

Predicting the outcomes of the remaining 32 matches in the URC could be seen as a fool’s errand. Where’s the fun in never risking looking a little foolish though?!?

Armed with nothing more than the fixture list, a bespoke spreadsheet and few expectations of ending up looking like Nostradamus, here are some possible outcomes depending on how the Scottish sides perform.

Goals Achieved

As mentioned above, three wins from four is a healthy target for both Glasgow and Edinburgh. If they can meet those requirements, the playoff picture could look something like this:

Scotland Rugby News:

Glasgow Slip Up

If the Warriors can only return a couple of victories, that’s likely to significantly drop them down the league table:

Scotland Rugby News:

Edinburgh Slip Up

Just two wins for Edinburgh could still be enough, while if Glasgow achieve their goal this could lead to:

Scotland Rugby News:

Two Wins Each

If both sides miss out on the target of three wins, they should still make the top and bottom half of the play-offs respectively but everything gets a little trickier – especially for the Warriors – and mixed form definitely isn’t the best way to head into the post season:

Scotland Rugby News:

Other Possibilities

Four wins (and a reasonable amount of bonus points) would almost certainly make Glasgow favourites for the top spot.

If Edinburgh were to return a 100% record it probably still wouldn’t be enough for a home quarter-final but it would send them flying into the play-offs – with a decent chance of taking on Munster having beaten them just three weeks earlier.

One win out of four for either of the Scottish clubs doesn’t really bear thinking about. The Warriors might still scrape a home quarter-final but whoever they played would be scenting blood.

With the current congestion between fifth and eleventh places, a solitary win across the next month and a half would most likely end Edinburgh’s season when the final whistle is blown in Round 18.