South Africa are reportedly in talks to join the Six Nations in 2024 after the conclusion of the next Rugby World Cup.
According to The Daily Mail, the Springboks will join Europe’s top-tier international competition, bringing the total number of teams to seven, rather than ejecting the likes of Italy from the tournament.
While this would likely increase fixture congestion, the proposal is understood to be too enticing to ignore.
Rumours of South Africa joining the Six Nations have been circulating for a while now, with the Cheetahs and the Southern Kings arrival in the Pro14 seen by many as the first steps towards increased South African involvement in Europe.
The other South African Super Rugby sides - the Bulls, the Lions, the Stormers and the Sharks - have also been rumoured to be interested in joining domestic European competitions.
Super Rugby, which involves teams from South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Japan, is in its 25th year of existence, but television rights are far more lucrative in Europe.
This may well be the reason behind the world champions’ eagerness to look north, as the South African clubs have lost many players to wealthier European clubs in recent years.
South Africa is also on closer time zone to Europe, compared to New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Japan.
The Springboks' move to the Six Nations would also cause great change in the southern hemisphere’s top-tier international competition, the Rugby Championship.
The Rugby Championship currently consists of South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina, with each side playing each other home and away for a total of six games.
With South Africa leaving, The Rugby Championship may look at involving 2019 World Cup quarter-finalists Japan in the competition, with Fiji another potential newcomer to the tournament.
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