Six Nations vice-president Bernard Laporte has revealed that the Springboks are advanced talks to join this Autumn’s Eight Nations tournament following the Japanese withdrawal from the competition.
Plans by Six Nations officials to run a one-off eight-team tournament seemed to hit the rocks this week after it was reported that the Japanese will not travel to take part due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Japan – along with Fiji – were supposed to join up with the half-dozen Six Nations countries to play in a tournament that would replace the traditional November tours where southern hemisphere teams visit those in the north.
Laporte confirmed that Japan won’t be one of the Eight Nations but he also revealed that the World Championship Springboks could be set to take their place.
“The Japanese will not come to Europe, he told us. We are looking for a nation to replace them. We are in advanced talks with South Africa. It would be great to be able to face the Springboks, world champions. in the title, but it’s not yet done,” told Le Progress in France.
The plan was for two groups of four, giving each country three group matches before a single round of finals would take place on the first weekend of December.
Group 1 was reportedly to consist of England, Ireland, Fiji and Wales, while Japan were set to join Scotland, Italy and France in Group 2. The Springboks joining the Eight Nations tournament would certainly be a huge draw for fans.
Georgia, who have been knocking at the door of the Six Nations for years, are also a possibility to replace the Japanese in the eight-team tournament, but would likely be gazumped by South Africa, if a deal can be brokered.
The Springbok involvement would cast further doubt on their own involvement in the Rugby Championship.
Former Rugby World Cup-winning coach Jake White cast doubt on the Springboks involvement in the Rugby Championship. The Bulls Director of Rugby White, in his weekly ‘No Holds Barred’ interviews series on the Bulls social media applications, hinted that the Boks may not be involved in the Rugby Championship.
He has asked what his plans are for rotating players and covering injuries and said he will look at the schedule and make assessments before deciding on a strategy.
“There was a feeling that the Springboks would be leaving to play [in the Rugby Championship] overseas,” White said. “That hasn’t been confirmed either.”
“If that is the case it has an impact on how you rotate the players.”
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