The recent statement released by SANZAAR regarding the future of the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship may have been premature.
SANZAAR announced last Wednesday that all four member unions – South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina and Australia – had recommitted to the tournament until 2030.
SA RUGBY ‘WELCOMED’ THE SANZAAR CHANGES
The statement mentioned the Rugby Championship would be restructured to include a 12-match format with teams playing each other on a home or away basis.
SA Rugby sent out a statement of their own shortly thereafter, “welcoming” the changes.
“We welcome the changes announced to the Rugby Championship with our SANZAAR partners and we are looking forward to see what the new strategic plan for the competition entails, with possible international expansion on the cards,” Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby, was quoted as saying.
However, despite that statement, the Rapport newspaper on Sunday suggested that SA Rugby has in fact not decided whether to stay in the Rugby Championship after the current deal ends in 2023, or join the Six Nations.
SA Rugby has endured a diabolic 2020 financial year thanks to no Springboks Tests played and had to withdraw the Springboks from this year’s Rugby Championship, resulting in a further hit their coffers.
Understandably, money talks, and a decision to cut ties with SANZAAR and join the Six Nations will be based on commercial factors.
From next season, the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers will participate in an expanded PRO16 tournament, replacing the Cheetahs and Southern Kings who played in the PRO14.
Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners has a stake in the PRO14 as it currently stands, and is set to buy shares in the Six Nations.
CVC has had discussions with SA Rugby regarding the purchase of shares in its commercial arm and would look to market SA rugby in the far more lucrative northern hemisphere.
While the Six Nations typically takes place from February to March and the Rugby Championship in August-October, it’s unlikely the Springboks will be able to play in both tournaments.