A leading official for the Six Nations has quashed ongoing rumours of a potential shift north for the Springboks - but there could still be plenty of matches for them there.
Despite ongoing assurance from SANZAAR the current world champions are committed to remaining in the Rugby Championship, with the reformation of Super Rugby leaving fans questioning how long will it be until the Springboks head north.
With Super Rugby Pacific effectively swapping out South African franchises for clubs from the Pacific, the Stormers, Bulls, Lions and Sharks have joined the United Rugby Championship to match up against Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Italian clubs.
However, Six Nations tournament chief executive Ben Morel told The Guardian including the Springboks in a northern competition wasn't an option and they were "extremely cautious on the topic".
Morel added international rugby bosses were instead focused on adding more cross-hemisphere competition after the 2023 Rugby World Cup with the Nations Championship - an idea shelved in 2019 - a possibility.
”In order to give a stronger pathway to the emerging nations, whoever they may be in the north or southern hemisphere, there could be some adaptation to the July or the November windows,” Morel said.
“That could give more competitive matches to those unions… to give them the experience that they need to get to that level. I think a priority right now would be to have a more structured July and November.
“Our current strategic priority is we experienced a really successful Autumn Nations Series… we believe that we could enhance the sporting narrative and give every game a meaning and a link, hopefully culminating in some sort of final weekend."
Morel said there was plenty of interest in the competition with a Nations Championship able to offer financially-struggling unions the chance for increased revenue.
“In order for this to happen post-World Cup, we’d need to have this finalised before the summer. So these conversations are active.
“[There are] a lot of people to discuss it with, a lot of consultation… hopefully a good common solution can be identified. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
However, Europe's top nations have been the biggest opposition to change so far - especially at the thought of an international competition which could use relegation and promotion.
Not helping the cause is the fact that the recent results give Europe's top unions more weight in current conversations with the All Blacks losing to both Ireland and France last year while England beat both the Wallabies and Springboks.