The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Eight Nations mooted after Springboks bid to join in

- By Nik Simon

A RADICAL eight-team Six Nations format has been proposed in response to South Africa’s bid to join Europe’s annual competitio­n.

Rugby Europe, who organise the Six Nations B League, will meet with the tournament’s power brokers next month to discuss future developmen­ts.

Negotiatio­ns to integrate the Springboks in 2023, as revealed by the Daily Mail yesterday, have been branded ‘commercial­ism’ at the expense of developing nations such as Georgia and Spain.

Rugby Europe president Octavian Morariu told The

Mail on Sunday that an alternativ­e format — reducing the number of match weekends — should be considered. ‘We would expect the Six Nations to also look at expanding into Europe,’ said Morariu.

‘Their motivation is commercial but my concern is the developmen­t of the game. If we look at the market, Europe is the largest potential market. It’s not developed enough. There will be disappoint­ment among countries like Georgia, Romania and Spain if this goes ahead.

‘A seven-team tournament puts a lot of pressure on the schedule and player welfare. It’s very complex.

‘I am meeting John Jeffrey in Edinburgh next month when France play Scotland. We have discussed a lot of things; women, Under-20, promotion and relegation.

‘Using the same weekends, you could have two pools of four. Three games, two semis and a final. Rotated over two or three years so everybody plays everybody.

‘We are trying to spread the game around. If the market is taken by these seven nations, it is hard for us to develop. Funding from one of these competitio­ns would give us the money we need to develop.’

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