A Six Nations with South Africa would feed into plans for the new World Nations Championship competition, which was initially abandoned in 2019 to be revived with bosses from the Six Nations and Sanzaar – the Southern Hemisphere organization featuring Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and New Zealand to become South Africa – meeting for talks in London next month.
The original concept for a two-tier world league was scrapped in 2019 due to a backlash against World Rugby’s proposal for the competition, which should have started that year. He failed to garner unanimous support from power brokers, largely because of the prospect of promotion and relegation from the Six Nations and possible expulsion from the top division Pacific Islands teams.
However, with the Six Nations and Sanzaar now running the project, as opposed to World Rugby, the concept has been breathed new life.
According to reports in the Sydney Morning Herald, the structure of the tournament would crown a Nations Cup winner every two years out of four, in the years between the Rugby World Cup and the British and Irish Lions tours.
All test matches under the new proposal would be played for league points, including matches in the Six Nations and rugby championships, as well as the summer and autumn tests, with a final then potentially taking place at the end of November.
The concept of three Summer Test tours, like England’s trip to Australia later that year, would be replaced by Southern Hemisphere teams, who instead host three different Northern Hemisphere teams each summer.
Two divisions of 12 remains the desired structure, with Fiji and Japan possibly joining the Six Nations and Rugby Championship teams in the top division. The promotion and relegation between the two divisions is likely to be another sticking point in the proposal. A working group is due to meet with the World Rugby Executive Committee in early March to outline their plans.
“If we can work together towards an outcome that produces a world champion every two years, engages our fanbases more than now and throughout the year and provides a path for the burgeoning rugby nations to improve and progress, then we can be in one much better position to build our game and take it to the next level,” Sanzaar boss Brendan Morris told the Herald.
Further reports from the southern hemisphere suggest that South Africa’s expected move to join the Six Nations will not take place until at least 2025, likely 2026, given South Africa Rugby Union’s commitment to the current Sanzaar Agreement with New Zealand, Australia and meet Argentina to play in the rugby championship.
SARU are understood to be evaluating options beyond that date, with a move to join the Six Nations a likely outcome given South Africa’s premier club franchises – the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers – recently joined the United Rugby Championship are, formerly known as the Pro16.
These teams previously competed in Super Rugby, with a rebranded version of the competition, Super Rugby Pacific, starting this week with teams from New Zealand and Australia, as well as two new sides – Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika – representing players from Samoa and Tonga.