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

FILE - Springboks’ Bongi Mbonambi (L) in action during Round 6 of the Rugby Championship against New Zealand. Photo: Dave Hunt/EPA

FILE - Springboks’ Bongi Mbonambi (L) in action during Round 6 of the Rugby Championship against New Zealand. Photo: Dave Hunt/EPA

Published Feb 17, 2022


Cape Town - SANZAAR chairman Marcelo Rodriguez acknowledged the fact that there “has been much speculation about the future” of the Rugby Championship, and expressed his delight that the tournament has been confirmed until at least 2025.

That is when the current broadcasting cycle will end, which has seen lots of conjecture about the Springboks joining the Six Nations – either as a replacement for the perennially under-performing Italy, or as an additional team to make it the Seven Nations.

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But what is the best outcome for the Boks and SA Rugby going forward? Should they remain in the Rugby Championship, or move over to the Six/Seven Nations?

Well, on the surface, it’s clear that SA Rugby want to move into Europe boots and all. The four main South African franchises – the Bulls, Sharks, Stormers and Lions – are already competing in the United Rugby Championship (URC), having left Super Rugby behind.

ALSO READ: Springboks set to play in Six Nations - report

There have been rumours about the Cheetahs – and possibly Griquas and the Pumas – being incorporated into other European competitions in future, although there is nothing concrete at the moment.

So, it would make sense for financial reasons for the Boks to participate in a European tournament as well, as there is big money in Europe, with broadcasting and other commercial deals sure to bring in serious bucks into Mzansi – which could even result in the four local franchises signing top Boks and retaining more senior players instead of losing them to other Euro sides.

But I am a bit wary about totally abandoning the Rugby Championship. It is vital that the Boks are able to take on at least the All Blacks every year, as that rivalry is the true measure of who rules the rugby world (sorry French fans!).

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There is no guarantee that if the Boks were to leave the southern hemisphere competition, that they would still get to play against New Zealand annually, as moving into the United Rugby Championship already robbed the four SA franchises of their top players last year.

ALSO READ: Springboks set to play in Six Nations - report

Of course, all of these issues would be resolved if there was a true global rugby season, but that is unlikely to happen anytime soon, as there is just too much commercial value to be gained from the Six Nations and Rugby Championship as separate entities.

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Another option that could be considered would be for the Boks to continue in the Rugby Championship, but then also take part in the Six/Seven Nations…

ALSO READ: LISTEN: Springboks ’not too old’ but local stars have ‘blank canvas’ to perform - Jacques Nienaber

For that to happen, it may mean that the Boks would have to field two different teams in the respective tournaments, as the URC would normally be played from September, in line with the rest of the European season.

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So, if all eligible players are active at the same time for their clubs and franchises, Jacques Nienaber’s first-choice team can’t be expected to play in the Six Nations in February and March, the July Tests in South Africa, the Rugby Championship in August and September, and the end-of-year tour to Europe.

ALSO READ: Springboks to tackle All Blacks in back-to-back Rugby Championship matches on home soil

Perhaps one set of Boks play in the end-of-year tour and the Six Nations, and the other group in the July Incoming Tour and Rugby Championship?

The possibilities are endless for the world champions at the moment, but one constant should be annual showdowns with the All Blacks…


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