New Zealand rugby writer Gregor Paul says the fate of the All Blacks is in South Africa’s hands as the Rugby Championship would collapse without the Springboks.
SA Rugby on Wednesday was among the four member nations who agreed to stay with Sanzaar and, by extension, the Rugby Championship until 2025.
However, reports from England followed which stated that a potential move to the Six Nations in 2025 was not off the table for the Springboks.
The Springboks have been involved in the southern-hemisphere tournament since it was first formed as the Tri-Nations in 1996, claiming their first title in 1998.
A highlight of the annual tournament is the rivalry between the Springboks and All Blacks, as the two teams have a history going back to 1921.
“South Africa and New Zealand are the load-bearing pillars of the Rugby Championship and if one comes out, the whole thing collapses,” Paul wrote in the New Zealand Herald.
“South Africa Rugby have committed to the Rugby Championship until 2025 but with their balance sheet in shreds thanks to Covid, they have confirmed they are seriously looking at their future pathway.
“Which means New Zealand’s fate has never so firmly been in South Africa’s hands, because the Rugby Championship would collapse without the Boks.
“Rugby has many great rivalries, but maybe none as special and as intense as that of the All Blacks and Springboks.
“There’s a complex social history intertwined into their relationship and while Scotland and England could say the same and point to their recent encounter at Murrayfield as evidence of how a long and storied history off the field can create the most febrile atmosphere on it, the All Blacks and Springboks going at each other for 80 minutes is arguably the most prized asset world rugby has.
“There’s no question the sport would be losing something extraordinarily special if it could no longer be sure when and how often the All Blacks would encounter South Africa.
“Beg them, bribe them, even blast them with Barry Manilow and James Blunt – just do whatever it takes to persuade them not to join the Six Nations because the New Zealand rugby public will not tolerate any administration that damages, or worse, loses the greatest test fixture in the game.
“There’s also no doubt that if South Africa quit the Rugby Championship, the All Blacks will be in serious danger of slipping behind the world’s leading teams as they simply won’t have enough meaningful competition in their staple diet.”
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