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Springboks participation in the Six Nations is a game changer

The Spingboks participation in the Six Nations could be great for the game. Photo: Ben Evans/Huw Evans/Shutterstock via BackpagePix

The Spingboks participation in the Six Nations could be great for the game. Photo: Ben Evans/Huw Evans/Shutterstock via BackpagePix

Published Feb 18, 2022

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Johannesburg - I will admit that the recently released Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power teaser trailer initially had me distressed.

Beloved are the works of JRR Tolkien to me, so to see so many liberties taken with his classic work had me quite alarmed that the series – quite possibly the most expensive ever produced for TV – would not live up to the legacy of what has come before, despite the fact that I have not even seen an episode.

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With the insertion of modern sensibilities, it is often difficult to put aside one’s own preconceived ideas and prejudices. Tolkien’s works were mostly written in the first half of the 20th century, and exposed the societal norms of those times, but the world has moved on, it has evolved, changed, and oscillated politically, economically and culturally.

To not do so would have led to stagnation, ruin and eventual death.

So, when I read reports that the Springboks are set to join the Six Nations, replacing Italy, as soon as 2025, I instinctively baulked at the idea. The Boks’ participation, in that moment of contemplation, in the Rugby Championship is sacrosanct. Since 1996 we have annually faced Australia and New Zealand; and since 2012, Argentina.

That is how it has been and how it always will be... except that that is not true.

Those modern sensibilities, and preconceived ideas and prejudices came to the fore again, and after pondering the implications of South Africa facing England, France, Ireland, Scotland and Wales on a yearly basis in the Six Nations, I now believe this is the best course of action.

There is no doubt in my mind that the international game has become stagnant in recent years, relying on the same matches, the same tournaments, the same nations, and the World Cup every four years, to generate interest in the game.

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The gamble to play the World Cup in Japan in 2019 showed that valour favours the courageous and for the sport to evolve, it needs change every so often.

ALSO READ: The Springboks should not snub the All Blacks as SA rugby push for Six Nations inclusion

A Six Nations with the Boks will open up discussions for a global calendar, possibly introduce a new team to the Rugby Championship, and could further develop tier 2 competition.

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The revenue SA Rugby would generate from such a move cannot be ignored. If managed correctly, it could be a boon for grassroots development in SA, further aiding the transformation of rugby, and tapping into a sector of the population that is willing to play the game but is unable to do so.

Of course, there will be pushback from the bitter-einders, the traditionalists who insist that if the story is written, then why change it.

Already, the northern hemisphere pundits have argued that the Boks should not be simply allowed to participate in the Six Nations, but rather earn the right by first playing the lower Rugby Europe International Championships. To that, I say pish posh – it is time for a paradigm shift. The Boks in the

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Six Nations might just be the move that begins that evolution...

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