The SANZAAR Rugby Championship organizers have confirmed world champions South Africa will continue to play in the annual competition until 2025.
The move ends speculation that the South Africans were planning to leave the Southern Hemisphere Championship, which also includes New Zealand, Australia and Argentina, to join the Six Nations roster.
“The pandemic has created a very unusual sporting environment over the past two years, with games and commercial delivery severely impacted,” said SANZAAR President Marcelo Rodriguez.
“It has seen the member unions work very hard to keep rugby alive and present during COVID and at times that has not been easy.
“Indeed, there has been a lot of speculation about the future, but it is now great that all members have committed until at least the end of 2025.
“It means we can focus on ensuring The Rugby Championship remains one of the best rugby tournaments on the world calendar.”
The impact of the pandemic has meant the majority of the 2021 Rugby Championship has been played in Australia, but SANZAAR remains confident that all four nations will be able to host matches in the next edition.
“Despite the lingering effects of the pandemic, it is expected that The Rugby Championship 2022 will be played in full with a return to matches played in all four countries,” the organization said in a statement.
“Due to the pandemic, the match schedule over the past two years has been severely affected, with no matches played in Argentina and only a handful of matches taking place in South Africa and New Zealand.
“The full 2022 match schedule will be announced in due course.”
(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by Lincoln Feast)