Rassie Erasmus supports the global calendar shake-up that would see the Springboks leave the Rugby Championship to join the Six Nations.
Erasmus was speaking to the Daily Mail, in a wide-ranging interview which also looked at his future beyond serving as SA Rugby’s director of rugby and whether he would join World Rugby or succeed Eddie Jones as England coach.
Recent reports have suggested that the Springboks will join the Six Nations from 2025. Instead of expanding the northern-hemisphere tournament, the Springboks would replace Italy.
Sanzaar announced last month that all four member unions – New Zealand Rugby, Rugby Australia, Argentina Rugby and SA Rugby – had committed to the southern-hemisphere partnership and the Rugby Championship until 2025.
“This is purely my own personal opinion. I don’t need to get myself into any more trouble! I’ve always been a massive fan of the Six Nations,” Erasmus told the Daily Mail. “Murrayfield is awesome, the Aviva is awesome, Twickenham is awesome. I love the atmospheres and their rich tradition of singing.
“Speaking from the South African side of the fence, I would love to see the Springboks in the Six Nations. The style of play, the travel and the time zones would all suit South Africa.
“We are locked in with the Rugby Championship until 2025, so for now it is still hypothetical. Just please don’t mistake this for me saying the Rugby Championship is bad. I love New Zealand, I love Australia and I love Argentina. Gus Pichot is a legend.
“If someone with proper research showed me that South Africa joining the Six Nations would make the Rugby Championship weaker and damage the growth of the global game, then we shouldn’t do it. But right now, speaking as a South African, I think joining the Six Nations would be awesome.”
The public’s reaction to the potential of the Springboks joining the Six Nations has been mixed. There are concerns over the impact it could have on the tournament as a whole as well as on Italian rugby.
Former England coach Clive Woodward was among those who slammed it as an “ill-conceived, muddle-headed idea”.
“I read the comments underneath Sir Clive’s article,” Erasmus explained. “People were saying, ‘We don’t want Rassie Erasmus making a two-hour video after every game’ and ‘What about tradition?’ Of course, tradition is important but I don’t think we can hang everything on that.
“But if everything in life is dictated by tradition, we’d still be ploughing fields with horses. Nothing would ever change.
“I think you only screw up tradition if you make something worse. Will South Africa make the Six Nations worse? Well, we might have a relapse, go back to playing attractive running rugby and be sixth in the world. If we are No 6 or 7 in the world it probably doesn’t benefit the Six Nations. Or we might keep playing boring rugby and stay at No 1, 2 or 3. Surely the more high-class teams you get in the competition the better.”
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