Sanzaar has announced that the Springboks will continue playing in the Rugby Championship until 2025, amid reports of a revival of the World Nations Championship concept.
SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux stated last year that the world champion Springboks would be interested in joining the Six Nations.
However, the prospect of this happening in the near future was quickly shot down by Six Nations chief executive Ben Morel, who said they will be cautious about adding any new teams to the northern-hemisphere tournament.
The Sanzaar relationship has become incredibly strained over the past couple of years, as New Zealand Rugby abruptly withdrew from Super Rugby in 2020 to form its own version of the competition with Australia and Pacific Island teams.
This forced SA Rugby to expedite plans to head into northern-hemisphere action, resulting in the birth of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship as we know it.
Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby also engaged in a bout of off-field bickering during last year’s Rugby Championship, due to the latter withdrawing from the competition before it was agreed that Australia would host it.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the Sanzaar executive committee confirmed that all four partners – SA Rugby, NZ Rugby, Rugby Australia and Union Argentina Rugby – have committed until 2025.
The move comes after the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Six Nations and Rugby Championship bosses will begin talks in March about a World Nations Championship.
According to the report, the competition would take place in between World Cups and would be similar to cricket’s World Test Championship, where points are compiled before a final at the end of the year. The competition would reportedly involve countries from the Rugby Championship, Six Nations and two other nations, such as Fiji and Japan. Teams would get points from their respective Test competitions, as well as from mid-year and end-of-year Tests.
This year’s Rugby Championship will be played in its entirety with a return to matches in all four countries. The Springboks have been confirmed to host two Tests against rivals the All Blacks.
Sanzaar chairman Marcelo Rodriguez stated: “The pandemic has created a very unusual sporting environment over the last two years with match and commercial delivery severely affected. This has seen the member unions work very hard to keep rugby alive and present during Covid and at times this has not been easy.
“Indeed there has been much speculation about the future but it is now great that all members have committed through until the end of 2025 as a minimum. This means we can concentrate on ensuring the Rugby Championship remains as one of the best rugby tournaments on the world calendar,“ added Rodriguez.
Photo: TOM SANDBERG/PPAUK/Shutterstock/BackpagePix