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Springboks joining Six Nations is '100 per cent going to happen'

By Ian Cameron
South Africa's Malcolm Marx (2L) tackles England's prop Kyle Sinckler (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

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Speculation continues to mount this week regarding an eventual accession of the Springboks into the Guinness Six Nations.

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Yesterday South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina all committed to playing in the Rugby Championship until at least 2025.

While this appears to end any immediate prospect of South Africa joining the Six Nations, reports from the Rainbow Nation suggest that SA Rugby are closing in on a deal that will see them join Europe’s flagship tournament from 2025, possibly earlier, in a move that would see them play in both tournaments for a period.

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The Daily Maverick in South Africa report that “SA Rugby is close to finalising a deal that will see the Springboks playing in the Six Nations from 2025 (and possibly as early as 2024).”

The world champion Springboks have been consistently linked with a hemisphere switch, and while few fans seem enamored with the prospect, it is being talked about as a fait accompli behind closed doors.

One industry insider told RugbyPass that the Springboks joining the Six Nations is ‘100 per cent going to happen. It has to.’

SANZAAR chief executive Brendan Morris has confirmed that South Africa are actively exploring their options.

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“They (South Africa) did put us on notice they were exploring their options. That was well before Christmas,” SANZAAR chief executive Brendan Morris told www.stuff.co.nz.

“We’ve got a number of international and local broadcast deals that are extended to 2025. There was never any cause for alarm that we were never going to meet those obligations.

“We are coming out of the worst three years in living memory of financial impact.

“Everybody has to do their due diligence in exploring what competitions to be involved in and what provides the best opportunity for the best commercial outcome.

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“The Six Nations, World Rugby, in all walks of life people are exploring their business models at the moment.”

Just last October Six Nations chief executive Ben Morel insisted there are no plans to add the Boks, with an enhancement of the July and November windows seen as a greater priority.

SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux stated at the time that his world champion Springboks would be interested in joining the Six Nations, but Morel poured cold water on it.

“It’s not currently a question. My understanding is that South Africa are committed to the Rugby Championship and at the same time our focus is on July and November,” Morel said. “The Six Nations has added to and reduced its number of teams in very few moments during its 140 years, so it is something that we would be very cautious of doing.”

New stakeholders CVC influence in the matter is being mooted as a key driving force in the South Africans joining. After two years of pandemic disruption, the private equity firm will be eager to start to see larger television deals struck as they bid to see a return on their investment.

The private equity firm has acquired a 14.3 per cent stake in the tournament –  equating to a 1/7th share with the six unions holding a share each. The long-term deal also includes the autumn internationals and the women’s and under-20s competitions and expands CVC’s interests in rugby union after deals were struck with the Gallagher Premiership and Guinness PRO14.

Morel has also said that CVC are not involved with the ‘sports’ side of the business, but one must suspect that such a move would be welcomed by the fund.

With the Sharks, Bulls, Stormers and Lions having joined the URC, the relationship between SA Rugby and their northern unions has certainly strengthened, while at the same time pandemic restrictions have put a dent in Rugby Championship relationships.

additional reporting PA

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