The future of the Rugby Championship looks a lot safer on Wednesday after South Africa recommitted to the competition until 2030, but this renewed loyalty has been seen by some fans as an opportunity for expansion and the inclusion of the likes of Japan and Fiji.

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Having withdrawn from this season’s Australia-based competition due to concerns surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, fears rose that that could spell an end to the four-team competition, with the Springboks favouring a potentially seismic move to the northern hemisphere and the Six Nations.

Those fears have obviously been allayed and after the news was announced by SANZAAR, there have now called for the Rugby Championship tournament to welcome new additions – with Japan and Fiji being the most discussed.

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Given that Japan (ninth) are actually ranked higher than Argentina (tenth) in the world rankings, and Fiji (eleventh) are only one below, there is a valid case for giving them a chance to compete amongst rugby’s elite. Tonga and Samoa also feature in the top 15.

Both Japan and Fiji were expected to play in the upcoming Autumn Nations Cup in the northern hemisphere, but the Japanese were forced to pull out and were subsequently replaced by Georgia.

There are obvious complications that come with expanding the Rugby Championship, not least geographical issues, but the idea of expanding the competition is not new, and South Africa’s decision to renew their commitment has only rekindled that discussion online.

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The Tri-Nations got underway last Saturday without the world champions, with the All Blacks securing an emphatic 43-5 victory over Australia. In what has been a difficult year, SANZAAR boss Andy Marinos has hinted at the promising announcements to come.

He said: “This is the first of a number of announcements that will be made over the coming weeks and months as we continue to plan into 2021 and beyond.

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“The disruption during 2020 has been significant, however, despite the numerous setbacks and the inherent complexity of our vast geographical expanse, we have managed to keep the game alive and look forward to the remainder of the revised Tri-Nations to bring the curtain down on the 2020 season.”

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