sport

Wray: South Africa join Europe

Saracens chairman Nigel Wray believes South Africa will, “sooner or later”, be competing with European sides due of their aligning time zone.

Currently, South Africa's main annual tournament is the Rugby Championship, where they compete with fellow southern hemisphere nations Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

The European equivalent, the Six Nations, is contested between England, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales at present, but Wray believes it would be "logical" for South Africa to join that list.

While acknowledging the potential downfalls should South Africa withdraw from the Rugby Championship, Wray believes such a move is inevitable.

"Clearly, sooner or later, South Africa will play with France, England, Ireland etc. because we are in the same time zone," Wray told The Telegraph.

"At the moment, South Africa have to tramp over to a completely different time zone, which takes a long time to get accustomed to.

"They play their games at the wrong time of day, at breakfast time, which is the worst time. I don't know when, but it is inevitable the game will go like that. It's just so logical.

"If I tell anybody we are going to open a shop in London's Marylebone High Street and are going to open from 11 at night until four in the morning, they'd think we were completely stark, staring bonkers."

Despite claiming the switch is likely, Wray believes it would be a move that would upset the All Blacks and Australia, who sandwich South Africa in the world rankings in first and third respectively.

Given their profound heritage as one of rugby union's pre-eminent nations, Wray was under no illusions about the negative effect of a potential move would have on fellow southern hemisphere giants.

"It's a problem for rugby, because that implies New Zealand and Australia will have to move towards Japan and Hong Kong to play in the same time zone, he added."