The Springboks could slip as low as third in World Rugby rankings should they suffer defeat against Wales at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. Photo: Springboks website

CONFIRMED: Boks exploring Rugby Championship exit to join Six Nations

The Boks are set to leave the Rugby Championship sooner than expected, with a move to the Six Nations now only a matter of time.


The Springboks could slip as low as third in World Rugby rankings should they suffer defeat against Wales at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. Photo: Springboks website

It’s been speculated for quite some time that the Boks would eventually be set to join an expanded Six Nations, or potentially replace one of the current northern hemisphere teams – expected to be Italy if there was to be a promotion-relegation battle.


Towards the end of 2020, the Sanzaar governing body stated that the Springboks would play in the Rugby Championship until at least 2030 as part of a new 10-year plan.

However, those plans are almost certain to change, with South Africa’s four leading franchises – the Bulls, Sharks, Stormers and Lions – having already headed into northern hemisphere competition with the start of the United Rugby Championship.

The Sanzaar partnership has appeared to be increasingly strained over the last couple of years, with cracks appearing ever since New Zealand were seen to have unilaterally decided that they would be leaving Super Rugby after the pandemic threw the competition into disarray.

It’s now been confirmed that SA Rugby have officially put their Sanzaar partners “on notice” that they are exploring their options, which is expected to see them leave the Rugby Championship and plan to join the Six Nations in the near future.


Some reports have suggested this dramatic move could take place after the 2023 World Cup, but Sanzaar announced on Wednesday that NZ Rugby, Rugby Australia, SA Rugby and Argentina Rugby had all committed to the Rugby Championship until 2025, in line with existing broadcast agreements.

Yet, Sanzaar chief executive Brendan Morris has told Stuff.co.nz that the long-term strategy has already had to be revised, and plenty of developments are sure to take place over the next couple of years.

“They [South Africa] did put us on notice they were exploring their options, that was well before Christmas,” Morris said.

“We debated whether we do an announcement around the extension of the joint venture [until 2025]. But it’s purely a document that allows us to operate the business structure that we have.

“We’ve got a number of international and local broadcast deals that are extended to 2025. There was never any cause for alarm that we were never go to meet those obligations.

“But, at the end of the day, it’s about getting the partners together to create a fit-for-purpose strategy.”

Some talks suggest the Boks could participate in both the Rugby Championship and Six Nations

Morris also noted that the financial impact of Covid-19 made it necessary for all unions to consider what competition structures best suited them commercially.

“Where is the Rugby Championship going? Are we looking at expanding? Are we looking at staying the same? Are there potential window opportunities to align with the global season?

“Some of that work now needs to come in and that’s why it’s great the joint-venture partners are all committed to 2025, and looking at what the future is.

“I don’t think we should read too much into, ‘all bets are off, South Africa are exploring their options’.

“It’s about sitting down with them, and all the partners, and saying, OK we had a vision until 2030 with Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship, we now need to amend that vision’.”