An extraordinary report from the northern hemisphere that South Africa are “on course” to join the Six Nations after the next World Cup has the potential to blow up the Rugby Championship and Super Rugby, which is news to SANZAAR and Rugby Australia.
The Daily Mail published a report on Saturday claiming negotiations are under way for the Springboks to join Europe’s premier annual rugby tournament, starting in 2024.
The Springboks celebrate winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup.Credit:Getty Images
The report said there was a “sense of inevitability” that South Africa, who beat England in last year’s World Cup final, would play in an expanded seven-team competition that would continue to feature Italy.
A source told the newspaper: “Things are falling nicely into place.”
If South Africa were to do so, the future of the Rugby Championship – the annual southern hemisphere competition played by Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa – would be thrown into disarray.
SANZAAR, the body that governs the Rugby Championship and Super Rugby, did not want to comment when contacted by the Herald.
Siya Kolisi in action for the Springboks during the 2018 Rugby Championship. Credit:AAP
Japan or Fiji could feasibly come on board but given South Africa’s standing, it would be a major blow. Australia and, more so, New Zealand, would be desperate to avoid it.
It would be tempting for South Africa to play in the northern hemisphere given the similar time zones, quicker flights to Europe than to Australia or New Zealand and the potential financial benefits of a huge Six Nations TV rights deal.
Two South African teams, the Cheetahs and Southern Kings, have already left Super Rugby to compete in the Pro 14.
The potential inclusion of the World Cup-winning Springboks, albeit after the 2023 World Cup in France, would be a coup for the Six Nations, which is being played at the moment.
Meanwhile, RA is yet to buy the Shute Shield rights from Club Rugby TV and Network Seven but is tipped to take its broadcast rights to public tender next week.
An agreement is set to be reached sooner than later, which would ensure RA can bundle together club matches, Super Rugby games and Tests into one product to sell in a five-year deal.
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