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Ken Borland

Fitzpatrick endorses 6 Nations as best, but thinks it’s terrible for SA to join

Posted on April 04, 2022 by Ken

Former New Zealand captain Sean Fitzpatrick is willing to endorse the Six Nations as the best tournament in rugby outside of the World Cup, but the All Blacks great believes it would be a terrible idea for South Africa to join that Northern Hemisphere competition.

Speculation has been rife recently that the world champion Springboks will follow their domestic franchises into European rugby, breaking from their traditional Sanzaar alliance with New Zealand, Australia and Argentina, and joining France, Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, and maybe Italy, in a new-look Six Nations.

“The Six Nations is arguably the best tournament outside the World Cup,” Fitzpatrick told a Laureus World Sports Academy media opportunity on Wednesday. “The first three rounds have been compelling viewing.

“There has obviously been a lot of talk in New Zealand and up north about South Africa joining, but why add to something when it is not broken? I don’t like the idea of Southern Hemisphere teams in the Six Nations because the history of the competition is Northern Hemisphere.

“And I don’t think the Southern Hemisphere can afford to lose South Africa from the Rugby Championship, it will be devastating to lose them. If they join, it would be a Seven Nations because Italy can’t just be ejected, they have a right of veto.

“So starting a new competition would add a pretty big new international window. It would be a sad day for rugby,” Fitzpatrick said.

The current form of the All Blacks has many of their fans already having kittens, but the chairman of the Laureus World Sport Academy said he was confident they were on track, while acknowledging the demise of the old Super Rugby competition that included South Africa has hurt them.

“Ian Foster [head coach] knows where he is going for sure,” Fitzpatrick said. “Traditionally the All Blacks have not worked on four-year cycles, they try and win every year.

“But I think this time they are building for the World Cup. The results have been disappointing but Ian has exposed a lot of players to international rugby. In 2019 they were exposed a bit in the heat of World Cup battle.

“Super Rugby has not turned out to be the competition it should be. Super Rugby Aoteroa in 2020 was fantastic, everyone loved it, coming back to New Zealand, it was very tribal.

“But last year was different and we’ve missed South Africa. Super 12 was such a good product, but they got greedy going to 14, 16, 18 teams and it blew out because it was unsustainable,” Fitzpatrick said.

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