Torneo de la URBA
|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 Unión de Rugby de Buenos Aires, or simply Torneo de la URBA, is an Argentine rugby union competition held in Buenos Aires. Created on 10 April 1899, it is the oldest rugby competition in South America and one of the oldest club competitions in the world.
The Torneo de la URBA is currently the strongest club competition in Argentina, with 82 clubs playing in 4 divisions.
The precursor of both the Argentine Rugby Union and today's Unión de Rugby de Buenos Aires, "River Plate Rugby Championship" 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. In 1995 the Unión de Rugby de Buenos Aires was created, as a result of a reorganization of the UAR. Since then, the championship renamed "Torneo de la URBA".
The Torneo de la URBA is open to all clubs from the Buenos Aires Province. As a founding member of the RPRU, Atlético del Rosario was also authorised to participate, 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 unions).
The tournament is one of the country's two main club competitions; the other being the tournament dedicated to the clubs from the provinces (i.e. not from Buenos Aires): the Torneo del Interior.
The URBA tournament's formula has changed many times since 1899. The most recent inception is 82 clubs playing in 4 divisions: 24 clubs in the first division, 24 in the second, 16 in the third and 18 in the fourth division.
The first division (officially called "Torneo de la URBA – Grupo I") involves 24 clubs divided into 2 zones of 12 teams. Each team play against its 11 opponents in the zone only once (either home or away). At the end of the first phase the best 14 clubs (7 clubs per zone) qualify to the "Top 14" phase of the competition, while the other 10 clubs meet the 14 best-qualified clubs of the second division in a promotion/relegation competition named "Reubicación".
The tournament's final stage is called "Top 14", with the 14 best placed teams competing in a single round-robin schedule. It takes place over 13 weeks, with every club playing each of their opponents only once (either home or away). At the end of this phase, the first 4 clubs qualify for the semi-finals of the tournament, with the first ranked team meeting the fourth and the second meeting the third. Both semi-finals take place on the same weekend on neutral ground. The final usually takes place a week later and the winner of this game is crowned URBA champion.
Both the URBA winner and runner-up qualify for the Nacional de Clubes semi-finals, where they meet the winner and runner-up of the Torneo del Interior. The winner of that competition is declared Argentine champion.
The lower divisions of the URBA tournament follow a similar system with 2 phases. The best ranked teams from the first phase entering a promotion competition, and the lowest ranked teams entering a salvation competition.
First Division (Grupo I)
The tournament was created in 1899 as "River Plate Rugby Championship", using this name 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".
In 1995 the Unión de Rugby de Buenos Aires (abbreviated: "URBA") was created as a body independent of the UAR. The URBA took charge of the organization of the tournament, which adopted the name "Torneo de la URBA" that has remained up to the present times.
Up 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 time, including in 1939 when a record 3 clubs had to share the URBA title. To remedy this, a play-off system leading to a grand final was instaured in 1998. This new system has been in used since then, except in 2001.
Below is the complete list of the Torneo de la URBA from 1899:
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||9||1996, 1998, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2015|
|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 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
- "Historia de la Unión" at URBA website
- "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 Consultado el 16 de mayo de 2014
- URBA: Todos los campeones – "A Pleno Rugby" 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
- Campeones de la URBA 1996-2013 at URBA website
- URBA Official Site (Spanish)