The Mail Online has exclusively revealed that Italy’s days in the Six Nations are numbered with their replacement already decided.
According to their report, current World Champions South Africa’s switch to the European showpiece at the expense of the Italians is still very much on, with talks continuing about the Springboks joining from 2025.
It is said CVC, the private equity firm who have bought a £365million stake in the Six Nations and the United Rugby Championship, are one of the main driving forces behind the ambitious proposal. They see huge financial benefits to the plan.
They’ve reported that there will not be an expansion to the tournament with a straight swap being the most likely scenario.
They said: ‘With the country’s provincial sides set to participate in European tournaments from next season, the next step is for the Boks to be integrated into the Six Nations. This scenario was first reported by Sportsmail in February 2020 and, although the timescale has altered slightly, the outcome has not.
‘That means that the Boks would replace struggling Italy, which would enhance the competitiveness of the event but reduce any future prospect of participating unions agreeing to a model of promotion and relegation, without the safety net of the weaker Azzurri.’
Sanzaar chief executive Brendan Morris confirmed that South Africa’s union are looking at alternative scenarios, saying: ‘They put us on notice they were exploring their options. That was well before Christmas.’
Six Nations chief executive Ben Morel says he is “extremely cautious” about expansion, but CVC are said to feel South African involvement would bring enormous commercial gains and make an already legendary tournament even greater.
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