South Africa ‘set to replace Italy in the Six Nations in 2025’
South Africa are set to replace Italy in the Six Nations in a move which would see the Springboks remove themselves from the Southern Hemisphere Rugby Championship.
South Africa’s switch to the Six Nations is very much on with talks continuing about the Springboks joining Europe’s showpiece tournament from 2025, according to a report in the Daily Mail.
While South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina this week committed to the Southern Hemisphere’s annual Rugby Championship for three more years, the South African rugby union informed the southern hemisphere’s governing body Sanzaar, that they are exploring their option of joining the Six Nations after 2025.
The move comes with the country’s provincial sides now competing in the United Rugby Championship (URC) with Welsh, Scottish, Irish and Italian teams, and from next season they will take part in European tournaments.
It’s believed that investors CVC are a ‘driving force’ behind the idea after buying a £365m stake in the competition, a deal which was announced in March 2021.
CVC is a Luxembourg-based international private equity investment firm that have invested in a number of sports globally including cricket, football, Formula 1 and rugby
The newspaper reports that the most likely plan is for the six team format to be retained at the expense of a weaker Italy team, rather than any expansion of the championship.
When he was asked last year about the option of expanding the tournament, Six Nations chief executive Ben Morel said: “The Six Nations have added to and reduced its teams very few times in its 140 years, so it’s something we’d be very cautious about doing. We’re pretty happy with what we have, but we’re pretty sure it could be improved.”
When the CVC investment in the Six Nations was announced last March, the company issued a mission statement which read: “The objective is to enhance the sporting spectacle of all the tournaments, teams and brands; and to build broader commercial capabilities to support these ambitious plans.
“These steps will ensure continued development for the benefit of fans, and to attract a new more diverse and global fan base.”
Today’s report will only heighten debate about whether South Africa competing in the Six Nations at the expense of Italy is a giant leap forward or a step too far.
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