SA have reaffirmed their commitment to the Rugby Championship for the next decade, organisers SANZAAR said on Wednesday, bringing an end to speculation the world champions may look to join Europe’s Six Nations.
The four-nation SANZAAR alliance faced turmoil this year due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) at odds with SA and Australia over the future of the club-based Super Rugby competition.
SA withdrew its four major teams from any future Super Rugby competition in September and said they would look to join Europe’s PRO14.
They then withdrew the Springboks from the Rugby Championship, which is currently being played in Australia, because of player welfare concerns.
“The southern hemisphere rugby powers have recognised the need for change in these difficult times and have committed to an international rugby future through to 2030,” SANZAAR said.
It said the SANZAAR entity would be restructured, as would domestic club/provincial tournament structures.
SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said the commitment by the four unions was an important step.
“The recommitment by the four unions to the long term future of the international game is an important start as we embark in a new direction,” Marinos saod.
“The disruption during 2020 has been significant. However, despite the numerous setbacks and the inherent complexity of our vast geographical expanse, we have managed to keep the game alive.”
New Zealand, Australia and SA were forced to organise domestic Super Rugby competitions this year due to the pandemic, and with travel restrictions likely to remain in place they may have to do so again in 2021.
NZR drew fire when they presented Rugby Australia with the option of a trans-Tasman competition, without any SA teams, prompting speculation in the northern hemisphere they might walk away from SANZAAR altogether.