9 Feb 2020

Rugby: Six Nations to become Seven?

7:45 am on 9 February 2020

The future of southern hemisphere rugby's competitions have been thrown into confusion again with South Africa exploring the possibility of leaving SANZAAR and joining an expanded Six Nations in 2024, according to a British newspaper report.

The move has been timed for the Springboks to enter a new Seven Nations tournament, joining England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy, after the 2023 World Cup in France, the Daily Mail has reported.

The newspaper, however, provided few details on the proposal other than to quote an unnamed source as saying: "things are falling nicely into place".

Codie Taylor is congratulated by his All Blacks team mates after scoring against Springboks in Durban 2016.

There's more speculation South Africa will join the northern hemisphere competition rather than continue in the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship alongside the All Blacks. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

SANZAAR is an alliance between South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina rugby unions to run the provincial Super Rugby competition and the Rugby Championship, which is between each country's national sides.

It was originally founded between South Africa, Australia and New Zealand when rugby went professional in 1995 and expanded to include Argentina from 2012.

Reports have emerged periodically that South Africa were looking to leave the alliance and link with European competitions, with the time zones more favourable for television audiences and there being less long-distance travel.

South Africa, however, solidified ties in Europe in 2018 when the Cheetahs and Kings - who were cut from Super Rugby following the 2017 season - moved to play in the Pro14 league against club teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy.

SANZAAR is in the process of finalising a new broadcasting agreement that runs until the end of 2025, with New Zealand and South Africa having confirmed they already had contracts in place with local broadcasters.

Rugby Australia, however, is still to finalise their agreement, with long-term broadcaster Fox Sports walking away from negotiations according to numerous media reports.