SOUTH AFRICA are set to join the Six Nations with Italy given the boot, according to stunning reports.
Talk has rumbled since February 2020 that the Springboks could join the traditionally European-based tournament.
World champions South Africa could shake up European rugby[/caption]
England beat South Africa 28-26 last year at Twickenham[/caption]
And the Mail claim that it could happen as soon as 2025, in a blow to the Azzurri.
Italy joined the competition in 2000 but have largely struggled, last winning a game in 2015.
World Champions South Africa could now take their place in a move driven by new investors.
CVC plunged £365million into the Six Nations last year in return for a one-seventh stake in the tournament.
They are reportedly the ‘driving force’ behind South Africa’s bid to join up with England, Scotland, France, Ireland and Wales.
European-based teams are claimed to be eager to cash in on the Springboks’ huge popularity – with South African sides able to generate huge broadcasting revenue.
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Club sides from the Southern Hemisphere nation will play in European competitions from next season onward, with their national team supposedly following suit.
When quizzed about the possibility of expanding the competition last year, tournament chief executive Ben Morel said: “The Six Nations have added to and reduced its teams very few times in its 140 years, so it’s something we’d be very cautious about doing.
“We’re pretty happy with what we have, but we’re pretty sure it could be improved.”
Plans to include the Springboks do have opposition within European rugby, although ‘maximising revenue’ is set to take precedence over such gripes.
When announcing their investment into the Six Nations last year, CVC wrote: “The objective is to enhance the sporting spectacle of all the tournaments, teams and brands; and to build broader commercial capabilities to support these ambitious plans.
“These steps will ensure continued development for the benefit of fans, and to attract a new more diverse and global fan base.”
South Africa, who beat England in the 2019 World Cup final, have a winning head-to-head record against all five of the teams they’d be joining.
Italy could be booted from the Six Nations[/caption]