Rugby fans on Twitter are outraged by the proposal to reboot the Six Nations.
Yesterday evening reports emerged that South Africa could potentially join the Six Nations from 2025 onwards. Some reports suggest that Italy could be kicked out of the competition and replaced with the current world champions.
This could kill rugby in Italy stone dead. It could severely damage rugby in Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Georgia. It could ruin rugby’s safest bet, the Six Nations. It wouldn’t even really benefit South Africa. But CVC would make money so I guess that’s what truly matters. https://t.co/dzCD7q7FQE
— Squidge Rugby (@SquidgeRugby) February 17, 2022
The Springboks are current members of The Rugby Championship, run by Sanzaar and is purely a Southern Hemisphere competition. Every year The Rugby Championship is contested between New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina.
To develop tier 2 international rugby especially, many fans believe the likes of Japan and/or Fiji should join the Rugby Championship. Japan more recently made it to the quarter finals of the 2019 Rugby World Cup however, were beaten by eventual champions South Africa 26-3. Fiji also made it to the quarter finals in the inaugural world cup in 1987 and in 2007.
"The Eureka moment of Sir John Kirwan saying on Sky Sports New Zealand’s Breakdown that Japan and Fiji should be admitted to the Rugby Championship, should be filed under ‘No shit, Sherlock’ in 2021. It should have happened years ago."
— The XV Rugby (@TheXV) July 13, 2021
South Africa joining the 6 nations replacing Italy is a horrendous idea. It will kill Italian rugby. It’s also a huge slap in the face of all of the nations in this table. Absolute joke. pic.twitter.com/QUyaT3N9TC
— Liam 🏴 (@liamwarrender) February 16, 2022
South African Clubs in the Northern Hemisphere
Since 2017, South African club sides have begun playing in the northern hemisphere with the Cheetahs and the Southern kings joining the then Pro12 from Super Rugby to create the Pro14. However, since the turn of Covid, due to competitive and finance issues, both clubs left the competition. Issues surrounding time difference and travel forced the remaining 4 South Africa clubs to leave Super Rugby and join the Pro14. The 4 South African club sides’ journey in the northern hemisphere began towards the end of the 2021 season. A mini cup competition was played following the conclusion of the league called The Rainbow Cup. South African side The Bulls, coached by Rugby World Cup winning head coach for South Africa in 2007, Jake White, lost in the final to Benetton 35-8. Benetton at the time were coached by the current Italy head coach Kieran Crowley.The 4 sides joined the league officially for the 2021/22 season with the competition rebranded. The competition is now known as the United Rugby Championship (URC).
South Africa in the Six Nations. It’s a no from me.
It’s too special to tinker with. The history & rivalry is worth protecting. Relegation play-off would be no bad thing but thought of adding Springboks leaves me cold. https://t.co/HZrnpsc6kC
— Sonja McLaughlan (@Sonjamclaughlan) February 14, 2022
It’s fair to say the reaction to South Africa replacing Italy in the Six Nations has been overwhelmingly negative on my timeline. Virtually no-one in favour of the idea. Looks like it is going to be a hard sell to the public.
— Simon Thomas (@simonrug) February 17, 2022
Many fans believe that the removal of Italy from the tournament will ‘destroy the development of rugby in Italy’. Fans also do not like the idea of seeing a ‘mini world cup’ being played out every year with South Africa joining the competition.
I'm not a fan of the rwc every year thing
— Fionn, proud parish man (@Fionngoc) February 16, 2022
From the 2022/23 season the 4 South African clubs sides are eligible to qualify for the Champions Cup which has traditionally been a European club based competition.
Last year it was announced that private equity firm CVC Capital Partners bought a 14.3% ownership stake in the Six Nations. CVC also are a former owner and investor in other major sporting competitions such as Formula 1. All members of the Six Nations together (including Italy) own 6/7th share of the competiition.