Torneo de la URBA
|Formerly known as||River Plate Rugby Championship|
|Number of teams||24 (Grupo I)|
|Region||Buenos Aires Province (URBA)|
|Current champion||Belgrano A.C. (2016)|
|Most titles||CA San Isidro (33 titles)|
|Broadcast partner||ESPN, DirecTV|
|Related competition||Nacional de Clubes|
The Torneo de la URBA (named Top 12) is an Argentine rugby union club competition organised by the Unión de Rugby de Buenos Aires ("Buenos Aires Rugby Union"). It is the top division of the Argentine rugby league system. Created on 10 April 1899 by the Argentine Rugby Union, the Top 12 is the oldest rugby competition in South America and one of the oldest club competitions in the world.
As a founding member of the Argentine Rugby Union (originally "River Plate Rugby Union" – RPRU), Atlético del Rosario is a current member of the URBA, even though the club is from the city of Rosario in Santa Fe Province (while the other clubs from that city take part in the Torneo del Litoral organised by the Rosario and Santa Fe governing bodies).
Top 12 is one of the country's two main club competitions, along with Torneo del Interior, where clubs from the rest of the Provinces of Argentina take part. The championship runs from April to November.
The River Plate Rugby Championship (today Argentine Rugby Union) was established in Buenos Aires on 10 April 1899, being its founding members: Buenos Aires F.C., Belgrano A.C. and Lomas A.C. from Buenos Aires, and Rosario A.C. from Rosario, Santa Fe. The first president of the body was Leslie Corry Smith.
That same year, the RPRU organised the first edition of the Buenos Aires' inter-club competition, which inaugural winner team was Lomas. The RPRC name was used until 1908, when it changed to "The River Plate Rugby Union". In 1931 the name was translated into Spanish "Unión de Rugby del Río de la Plata", that remained until 1951 when the union took the definitive "Unión Argentina de Rugby" (UAR).
As a result of a reorganization of the UAR in 1995, the Unión de Rugby de Buenos Aires was created to take over the tournament, being named "Torneo de la URBA". From then on, the UAR focused only on national teams while the URBA took over club competitions.
Until 1997 a league system was used, if two or more clubs finished with the same number of points they would share the title. This happened several times, including in 1939 when a record 3 clubs had to share the title. To remedy this, a play-off system leading to a grand final was instaured in 1998. This new system has been in use since then, except in 2001.
In 1998, the URBA introduced the playoff system, with a final match in a neutral venue to determine a unique champion of the season. New changes to the rules were added in 2008, when the fourteen best placed teams at the end of the regular season were elegible to play a second stage, named "Top 14". Every club played each other only once in a single-robin championship (either home or away). At the end of this phase, the first 4 clubs qualified for the semi-finals of the tournament, with the first ranked team meeting the fourth and the second meeting the third. Both semi-finals took place on the same weekend on neutral ground (usually the Club Atlético San Isidro stadium). The winner was crowned URBA champion. This system has remained (with minor changes) since then. The rest of the clubs played in a promotion and relegation competition named "Torneo Reubicación".
Both the URBA winner and runner-up qualified for the Nacional de Clubes semi-finals, where they met the winner and runner-up of Torneo del Interior. The winner of that competition was declared Argentine champion.
In 2016, the URBA introduced changes in the tournament's format for the 2017 season, with the "Top 14" being reduced to 12 teams (therefore renamed "Top 12") and becoming an independent championship, with all of the teams playing each other in a double round-robin tournament (home and away games).
As a result of those changes, the Buenos Aires league system was divided into six tiers. The new format also stated that the four best placed teams at the end of the season, would play the semifinals while the two worst placed would be relegated to the second division.
|Atlético del Rosario||1867||Rosario||5|
|CA San Isidro||1902||San Isidro||33|
|CUBA||1918||Villa de Mayo||14|
|La Plata||1934||La Plata||1|
|Regatas (BV)||1895||Bella Vista||0|
|San Isidro Club||1935||Boulogne||25|
|San Luis||1961||La Plata||0|
|Flores||1899||Flores Old Ground||0|
Titles by club
|CA San Isidro||33||1917, 1918, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1928, 1930, 1933, 1934, 1943, 1949, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1967, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1981, 1982, 1985, 2005|
|San Isidro Club||25||1939, 1941, 1948, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2010, 2011|
|Universitario (BA)||14||1931, 1942, 1944, 1945, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1965, 1968, 1969, 1970, 2013|
|Belgrano A.C.||11||1907, 1910, 1914, 1921, 1936, 1940, 1963, 1966, 1967, 1968, 2016|
|Hindú||10||1996, 1998, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017|
|Buenos Aires F.C. [a]||8||1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1908, 1909, 1915|
|Alumni||5||1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 2001|
|Atlético del Rosario||5||1905, 1906, 1935, 1996, 2000|
|Gimnasia y Esgrima (BA)||4||1911, 1912, 1932, 1939|
|Old Georgian||3||1937, 1938, 1939|
|Buenos Aires CRC [c]||2||1958, 1959|
|Banco Nación||2||1986, 1989|
The exclusive rights of Torneo de la URBA are broadcast live on ESPN Extra Saturday at 13:15 and are broadcast delayed on ESPN 2 at 17:30. In the Scrum are broadcast highlights of match Saturday at 23:00 (local time of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay), 22:00 (local time of Chile) and 21:00 (local time of Peru).
- The Buenos Aires F.C. was an institution with rugby union as its exclusive sport by those years. It would merge to Buenos Aires Cricket Club in 1951.
- The rugby section of the Buenos Aires Cricket Club was former Buenos Aires F.C. team that had merged to the institution in 1951.
- Since this year, a final match in a neutral venue is played to determine a unique champion of the season.
- Alumni crowned champion during the regular season, more precisely in the 11th. fixture when the team defeated CA San Isidro by 16-13.
- "Hechos históricos de la Unión" at UAR website
- El Top 12 tiene fixture, Rugbyfun, 21 Dec 2016
- Fixtures Top 12, Primera, Segunda y Tercera División 2017 on URBA website
- "Historia de la Unión" at URBA website
- "11er partido (15 de septiembre): C.A.S.I. 13 – 16 Alumni" at Alumni official web, 15 Sep 2001
- "Alumni: un campeón con el sacrificio como principal aliado" by Diego Mazzei on La Nación, 16 Sep 2001
- El torneo de la URBA da un abrupto giro a partir de 2017, La Nación, 20 May 2016
- "Se realizó el lanzamiento del URBA TOP 14", 19 May 2014
- La Voz - La UAR anunció el nuevo formato para el Torneo Nacional de Clubes, La Voz, 16 May 2014
- El Torneo de la URBA se renueva: arranca el Top 12, con una mayor competitividad y grandes partidos, La Nación, 29 Apr 2017
- Cambios en la URBA para los torneos de 2017, ESPN Scrum, 19 May 2016
- URBA: Todos los campeones – "A Pleno Rugby" website