Without criticising the Springboks’ continued participation, URC chief Martin Anayi has identified the Rugby Championship as a hindrance to the fledgling tournament reaching its full potential.

Due to the fact that World Rugby has not yet finalised a global calendar, the URC will still be required to make concessions in order to ensure optimal competitiveness, as evidenced by feedback from the inaugural season.

SA Rugby, which will become a full shareholder in the tournament in 2024, is contractually obligated to remain in the Sanzaar alliance until 2025 and is also dependent on the Rugby Championship’s revenue.

Consequently, the Boks’ schedule will not be synchronised with its local franchises.

Better alignment would also prevent the URC from experiencing a’season of two halves,’ as was evident last year.

“One of the primary points of feedback we received was that until there is better alignment in the calendar, there will be two distinct seasons, as was the case in the inaugural season. We hope this does not happen again, especially since we had to reschedule some games into the Six Nations window due to the Omicron variant outbreak,” Anayi said.

“There were mismatches in the first half, but the second half was better because some teams, particularly the South Africans, found consistency.

“Non-South African teams noted that they also had to balance European rugby. Everyone is now in the same boat. There is an additional difficulty and some consistency. I believe a better season is possible. Everything is improved. The media can concentrate on covering a single event rather than multiple ones.”

Yet Anayi, who has been widely praised for his willingness to listen, acknowledges that everyone in world rugby can contribute to keeping the sport exciting.

“Overall, and this will require an effort from everyone, we can play less rugby in terms of the number of games played. We should strive to improve quality rather than quantity. If we can reach the point where internationals play against internationals, that will be the holy grail, he said.

“A more linear approach to preparing for international competition would also be beneficial, perhaps a nations cup or league. Each game would have significance. We should continue to be ambitious and move forward.”

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