Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos has poured cold water over talk that South Africa could join an expanded Six Nations tournament.
A Daily Mail report suggested that negotiations have been going on for some time for South Africa to join their northern-hemisphere counterparts after the 2023 World Cup in France, with secret talks having been ramped up following the Springboks’ triumph in Japan.
Meanwhile, speaking to Sunday newspaper Rapport, SA Rugby president Mark Alexander suggested the article was pure speculation, but did admit the reports are also ‘not too far from the truth because there is a lot of disruption in rugby right now’.
However, Marinos said that he would be surprised if the Six Nations were to change their tournament structure to include the Springboks.
‘I think you’ve also got to take a step back and just realise where we are in the world-rugby political landscape right now,’ Marinos said. ‘There’s elections coming up in May, there’s a whole lot of positioning and jostling going on. There’s going to be a couple of outrageous statements that have been thrown across the bow.
‘Having played in and administered in the UK for a number of years, the likelihood of Six Nations opening up their borders anymore – they’ve learned a hard lesson they went from five to six with Italy – I’ve just put a bit of a reality check with that.’
Marinos added that he had been reassured by the SA Rugby hierarchy that the Springboks would stay in the Rugby Championship, where they are still contracted until 2025.
‘The second thing that I think is really important for stakeholders both in Africa and Sydney and the rest of Sanzaar is our South African directions have been pretty clear with us,’ he said.
‘It’s nothing more than media speculation and I think someone’s just trying to stoke a little bit of fire.
‘Our directions have been pretty clear and they’ve been consistent when if there’s anything that they need to tell us about any of their plans they certainly bring that to the table and they haven’t done that and when I’ve asked, it’s nothing more than speculation.’
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