Never say never with Springboks and Six Nations, says Rob Andrew
Former England flyhalf Rob Andrew has refused to rule out the possibility of South Africa joining the Six Nations in the next few years.
The subject came to light again earlier this month when a report in UK publication Daily Mail claimed that negotiations were at an advanced stage for the Springboks to leave the Rugby Championship in 2024 and join the Six Nations.
Andrew remains sceptical, saying the complexities of making it happen will present a major hurdle, though he feels the ever-changing nature of modern sport means you can’t rule the switch out completely.
“I’ve heard it before,” he says. “It’s one of those things that comes up every five years or so, normally around the time of renegotiation of rights, shares of revenue, competition formats and all the rest of it.
“The complexities of coming into the Six Nations would be extraordinary, but one of the things I have learnt is that you never say never in modern professional sports. It’s changing at such a rapid rate.
“When we pitched up in South Africa in 1995, it was the last ever amateur World Cup. The game was still amateur just 20-odd years ago! It’s the same with cricket and the move to T20 and the IPL … some of the stuff that’s happened in the last 10 years, you would never have imagined it possible.
“So you just never know if it will pan out, though I suspect money will play a big part in deciding the outcome. Modern professional sport is driven by money, and a lot of decisions are made on that basis, rightly or wrongly.”
Andrew will be in South Africa in early March as a member of the Lord’s Taverners Celebrity Cricket XI. The UK-based disability sports charity will play two cricket matches in Cape Town against its sister organisation Lord’s Taverners South Africa to help raise awareness of the work of the charity locally, which includes Table Cricket, an adapted version of the game which gives those with physical and learning disabilities the chance to play the sport we all love.
“It’s very big in the UK; they have something like 8 000 mentally and physically disabled kids playing Table Cricket,” Andrew says. “There are matches being hosted all across the counties, most of whom work very closely with the Lord’s Taverners.
“It’s just a fantastic way for the kids, some of them with very severe disabilities, to be part of a team. I’ve had a go at it as well - it’s quite an interesting challenge - and it’ll be great if on this tour, along with the Taverners in South Africa, we can help raise the profile of Table Cricket over there and help grow their programme.”
* The Lord’s Taverners charity celebrity cricket team and supporters will be in Cape Town to support Lord’s Taverners SA at the Sporting Legends Dinner at Kelvin Grove on March 7. The event will be hosted by Dan Nicholl, and will include chats from cricket legends like David Gower, Mike Gatting, Andy Caddick and Vincent van Der Bijl, as well as rugby stars Rob Andrew and George Chuter. Proceeds will go towards Lord’s Taverners SA’s various charity projects.