Springboks commit to Rugby Championship

Melissa Woods
·2-min read

World champions South Africa have committed to the Rugby Championship until 2030 in a boost for the Wallabies' financial future.

There were fears the Springboks, who withdrew from this year's four-team tournament due to the impact of COVID-19, would link up with northern hemisphere nations.

Currently being played in Australia, the tournament was forced to reduce to a Tri-Nations affair involving the Wallabies, New Zealand and Argentina.

However, governing body SANZAAR announced on Wednesday South Africa were on board for 2021 and beyond.

The championship will be restructured into "mini tours", with teams set to play two matches in one country one year, then two in the other country the following.

In 2019, when the competition was won by South Africa, teams only played each other once with the tournament shortened due to the World Cup.

The inclusion of the Springboks, who won the world title in Japan last year, will add gravitas to the Wallabies' international schedule in a fillip for Rugby Australia, who are in the midst of negotiating a broadcast agreement.

With Super Rugby pre-COVID abandoned, RA is still to finalise Australia's domestic competition in 2021 but are planning to stick with this year's fixturing plus some crossover games with New Zealand's Super Rugby Aerotoa.

South Africa's Super Rugby teams are set to join Europe's Top 14 competition however their national team is locked in.

"We welcome the changes announced to the Rugby Championship with our SANZAAR partners and we are looking forward to see what the new strategic plan for the competition entails, with possible international expansion on the cards," said SA Rugby boss Jurie Roux.

"Although we had to change our domestic focus, we still have a long history with the All Blacks and Wallabies as well as a long-standing friendship with the Pumas and we look forward to more world class Test rugby."

Roux pointed out the attraction that since the introduction of the southern hemisphere competition (formerly Tri-Nations) in 1996, it had produced the World Cup winner five out of six times.

SANZAAR boss Andy Marinos said more announcements would be forthcoming as more plans fell into place.

"This is the first of a number of announcements that will be made over the coming weeks and months as we continue to plan into 2021 and beyond," Marinos said.

"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 and look forward to the remainder of the revised Tri-Nations to bring the curtain down on the 2020 season."