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Clive Woodward slams the idea of Springboks 'artificially parachuting' into the Six Nations

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

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Former England coach Clive Woodward has vehemently opposed the idea of the Springboks joining the Six Nations in Europe, questioning the timing of the move and the need for European rugby to accomodate South Africa.

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Woodward’s column in the Daily Mail comes after South Africa has re-committed to playing in the Rugby Championship until 2025, while Six Nations bosses have already shot down any interest in the idea that Italy would be discarded in favour of the Springboks.

Despite committing to SANZAAR, rumours were abound that South Africa would try to join Europe’s crown jewel tournament in 2025 where they might replace Italy, who have struggled to be competitive in recent years.

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“Are South Africa really prepared to ditch New Zealand and Australia – and indeed Argentina,’’ he wrote, adding that the Los Pumas have been the biggest beneficiary of playing regularly against South Africa.

“Nobody has helped Pumas rugby more than South Africa. Doesn’t that old friendship count for something?

“I will be absolutely staggered if such a split didn’t cause huge, needless repercussions worldwide.”

Woodward believed the Southern Hemisphere has the ingredients for their own six team tournament after the rise of Japan and the impressive performances by Fiji.

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“Why now? The Springboks have the potential of a six-team tournament, including the four Rugby Championship teams plus Japan and the pre-eminent Pacific island team, probably Fiji. Surely that is a better way forward than artificially parachuting into the Six Nations, which would have such a detrimental effect.”

South African Rugby welcoming Japan back into the SANZAAR fold would be unlikley based on the suggestions made by Highlanders coach Tony Brown back in 2019 that they ‘never wanted’ Japan involved in Super Rugby and were responsible for the Sunwolves axing.

“There were so many things that went on and the South Africans were just dead against having the Sunwolves involved,” he said on the Fox Sports Rugby podcast back in 2019.

Brown suggested there was ‘bad blood’ between the Unions stemming back to the 2023 World Cup hosting vote, where Japan voted for France over South Africa as the host nation.

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“There’s a bit of resentment from what happened at the World Cup vote a few years ago and it’s a relationship that’s been pretty rough ever since the Sunwolves with Super Rugby.

“The next World Cup, France beating out South Africa for the hosting rights, I think there’s a little bit of bad blood there and various things like that counted against the Sunwolves.”

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