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Who has won the most United Rugby Championship Titles?

Last updated: 05 Jun 2024
Brad Newcomb 05 Jun 2024
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  • A look at the history of the United Rugby Championship competition
  • Who has won the most United Rugby Championship titles?
  • Guide to the most successful teams in the United Rugby Championship
Leinster United rugby championship
Leinster have won the most URC titles (Getty Images)

The United Rugby Championship brings together 16 teams from two hemispheres who battle it out over a regular season of 18 matches and eight play-offs to determine the winner.  

The championship began as the Welsh-Scottish league in 1999 before Irish clubs joined the set-up in 2001 when it became known as the Celtic League.

Italian clubs joined in the 2010/11 season, expanding the number of teams from 10 to 12, and the PRO12 was born.

Two teams from South Africa joined the championship for the 2017/18 season, creating the PRO14.

In September 2020, the South African rugby franchises decided to leave the southern hemisphere Super Rugby competition in favour of the PRO14 league, thus establishing the United Rugby Championship.

The United Rugby Championship comprises four teams from Ireland, two from Italy, two from Scotland, four from South Africa, and four from Wales.

Each team will contest their respective pools: the Irish Shield, the Italian Shield, the Scottish Shield, the South African Shield, and the Welsh Shield.

The Shield winners of each regional pool will qualify for the European Rugby Champions Cup(Heineken Cup).

The remaining four places are awarded to the teams with the best overall regular record.

After the 18-match regular season, the top eight teams, seeded 1 to 8, face each other in a knockout tournament until one team remains, with the lowest-seeded teams receiving home-ground advantage.

Here is the list of the most successful teams to have won the United Rugby Championship.

1. Leinster (Ireland) - 8 URC Titles

Leinster United rugby championship

Leinster have been the outstanding team in the URC, reaching a record 15 finals, winning eight in 2001/02, 2007/08, 2012/13, 2013/14, 2017/18, 2018/19, 2019/20, and 2020/21.

They finished runner-up in 2005/06, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, and 2015/16.

2. Ospreys (Wales) - 4 URC Titles

Ospreys rugby

Ospreys have the record of never losing a final in the United Rugby Championship, capturing four titles in 2004/05, 2006/07, 2009/10, and 2011/12.

3. Munster (Ireland) - 4 URC Titles

Munster have been a very successful team in the URC, reaching nine finals, winning four and losing five.

They lifted the trophy in 2002/03, 2008/09, and 2010/11 and had to settle for second in 2001/02, 2004/05, 2014/15, 2016/17, 2020/21, and in 2022/23.

4. Scarlets (Wales) - 2 URC Titles

Scarlets became the first welsh team to win the URC, defeating Ulster in the 2003/04 final. They had to wait many years for their second triumph in 2016/17 to go with a runner-up finish the following season.  

=5. Ulster (Ireland), Glasgow Warriors (Scotland), Connacht (Ireland) and Stormers (South Africa) - 1 URC Title each

Ulster won the 2005/06 season, beating Leinster in the final and lost three finals in 2003/04, 2012/13, and 2019/20.

The Glasgow Warriors lost the 2013/14 final before making amends the following season with a victory over Munster, and they also finished runner-up in 2018/19.

Connacht reached their maiden final in 2015/16, emerging the winner when they defeated Leinster.

The Stormers capped off their debut appearance in the URC with a victory over fellow South African outfit the Bulls in the 2021/22 final.

Some established teams that have never won the United Rugby Championship include:

  • Bulls(South Africa)
  • Cardiff(Wales)
  • Edinburgh(Scotland)

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