South Africa consider Six Nations switch


South African officials are considering the possibility of switching their international calendar to play in Europe.

South Africa's teams currently compete in the southern hemisphere's Sanzar group, with the Springboks playing the Tri-Nations and club sides in the Super 12.

A switch to Europe would see South Africa featuring in what is currently the Six Nations and the country's clubs lining up in the Heineken Cup.

No move can be made before the current Sanzar deal runs out in 2005 - but Rian Oberholzer, managing director of South African Rugby, admits it is a possibility.

He said: "Although at this point it is only talk, we feel we cannot have all our eggs in one basket.

"We do not intend to walk away but we must minimise our risk."

If South Africa were admitted to the northern hemisphere competition the benefits would give the Six Nations a huge commercial shot in the arm.

The advantages for South Africa would also be numerous thanks to larger European television and corporate markets, the lesser amount of travelling and a closer time zone.

The idea has received support with Piet Heymans, chief executive of the South African players association, who said: "It is a very attractive option.

"In terms of pure logistics, it would be best - and being paid in pounds would be attractive.

"The travel zaps our energy and affects our ability to perform at peak level.

"Also a number of guys have said the Tri-Nations has become a bit mundane, playing the same people and format year in year out."