South Africa are set to make the move to the northern hemisphere's premier international rugby competition.
The Daily Mail reports that private equity firm CVC, which holds a 14 per cent stake in the Six Nations, is the driving force behind South Africa joining.
Reports vary as to how many teams will take part once South Africa are introduced. The Daily Mail say South Africa will join "from 2025" and replace Italy in the tournament with it remaining the Six Nations.
According to the BBC's Tom English, suggestions that Italy would be jettisoned from the Six Nations should South Africa join may be incorrect. Instead, the tournament could become the Seven Nations.
South Africa to join Six Nations
Loose plan seems to be, post 2025, Seven Nations play in northern hemisphere and Five Nations play in the Southern Hemisphere (NZ,Aus,Arg,Japan,Fiji) with the two competitions merging in summer and autumn. One overall 12-nation league table. Possibly promotion and relegation. https://t.co/nzsXMDWkQg
— Tom English (@TEnglishSport) February 17, 2022
It was announced on Wednesday that South Africa have committed to the Rugby Championship for three more years, a move which initially appeared to stop a mooted move north. However, that does not seem to be the case.
South Africa have increasingly aligned themselves with northern hemisphere club rugby in recent years. The Stormers, Sharks, Bulls and Lions all now play in the United Rugby Championship. South African teams are also set to take part in the European and Challenge Cups from next season.
South Africa's introduction would undoubtedly make the tournament more lucrative. They are the reigning world champions and their participation would mean increased television viewership of games.
However, it would also decrease the competitiveness of the Rugby Championship, and should Italy be dropped from the Six Nations, it would be detrimental to the professional game there.
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