Rugby Championship: Springboks linked to eight-team northern hemisphere tournament


SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos denies reports that the Springboks could ditch the Rugby Championship to join a northern hemisphere competition later this year.

World Rugby vice-chairman Bernard Laporte has revealed it's in "advanced discussions" with South Africa to replace Japan, who pulled out of the eight-team tournament due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

The competition will replace the usual November test window, with teams unable to travel north during the pandemic. 

But Marinos has told Newshub that there is "no substance" to plans for the Springboks to join the 'Eight Nations' and plans will proceed for the Rugby Championship as normal.

A South Africa Rugby spokesperson says they also have "no knowledge of such an arrangement being planned", according to the BBC. 

But Laporte's comments have certainly cast doubt on the Rugby Championship, which also includes New Zealand, Australia and Argentina. 

Last month, World Rugby approved plans for a Rugby Championship between November 7-December 12 with the eight-team tournament to be played at the same time. 

"The Japanese will not come to Europe," Laporte told French news outlet Le Le Progrès. "We are looking for a nation to replace them - we are in advanced discussions with South Africa. 

"It would be great to be able to face the world champion Springboks in this championship, but it's not yet done."

The southern hemisphere format seems set to be hosted in New Zealand and Marinos told Stuff last week he was "very optimistic" it would  take place in November and December, if current levels of COVID-19 infections are maintained.

If South Africa decide to play in the eight nations competition, they would join a group  with Scotland, Italy and France.

The other group comprises England, Wales, Ireland and Fiji, with the two group winners meeting in a Twickenham final on December 5. 

Georgia had also been linked with inclusion after Japan opted to withdraw.