The number of matches in the Rugby Championship has been reduced dramatically.
World champions South Africa are expected to pull out of this year’s edition of the Rugby Championship according to reports in New Zealand.
The Springboks were expected to take part in the Southern Hemisphere’s premier international competition between October 31 and December 5 alongside Australia, New Zealand and Argentina.
However, the New Zealand Herald is reporting that the Springboks will confirm on Friday that they will withdraw from the competition citing player welfare concerns.
In addition to player welfare concerns, there is also worry surrounding travel regulations due to COVID-19 which has attributed to the overall decision.
South Africa’s edition of Super Rugby only kicked off last weekend. Attempts were made to ensure that the Springboks would not have to arrive in Australia, where the Rugby Championship will be hosted, until three weeks after originally planned but South Africa remain adamant that they do not have enough time to prepare for the tournament.
As a result of this withdrawal, only three teams will take part – New Zealand, Australia and Argentina. This reduces the competition from 12 matches to six matches.
Australia and New Zealand have already completed a domestic season in their respective Super Rugby competitions, Super Rugby AU and Super Rugby Aotearoa. It is understood that this gives the Wallabies and All Blacks an unfair advantage ahead of the competition.
This will come as good news for clubs in the northern hemisphere who have Springbok players in their squads. They can now rest easy that their star players will not have to travel to compete in the middle of the season.
This applies to Munster and their World Cup-winning centre Damian De Allende who would have missed a number of games for the southern province because of the Rugby Championship.