British & Irish Lions

NZ rugby boss dismisses Boks in Six Nations reports

Mark Robinson (Getty Images)
Mark Robinson (Getty Images)

Cape Town - New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson has dismissed reports claiming South Africa could leave the Rugby Championship and join the Six Nations.

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"I think this is the third team now in the past month that there's been reports out of the northern hemisphere that are going to join the Six Nations. By my count they are up to nine nations at some time in the next few years which we all know is simply not feasible," Robinson told New Zealand’s Radio Sport.

The Kiwi boss was responding to a weekend report on the Mail Online website which claimed the Springboks could join a seven-team Six Nations event in 2024.

The report added negotiations have been going on behind the scenes for some time, with one source telling the British publication that "things are falling nicely into place."

But Robinson, who recently replaced Steve Tew as NZ Rugby CEO, gave reasons why he felt South Africa would stay in the southern hemisphere:

"We're very comfortable in our relationship and South Africa's relationship with SANZAAR. Like us, they've signed agreements with their broadcasters through 2025 to be involved with SANZAAR. And as recently as this week we were on calls talking about the future of our competitions at Super level and international level. So SANZAAR and certainly South Africa were very engaged in those conversations.

"They are people that we trust, they are very honest and they've been great partners over the last 25 years. We would like to think that we would be privy to those sorts of comments or conversations if they had been had."

The benefits of the potential South African move north include an improved TV deal, easier travelling demands on players and similar kick-off times.

The Boks have participated in the Rugby Championship since 1996, when it was known as the Tri-Nations, and have won the event four times.

- Compiled by Herman Mostert

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