WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Southern hemisphere rugby's governing body SANZAAR have dismissed reports that world champions South Africa are to join an eight-team competition in Europe later this year rather than play in the Rugby Championship.
World Rugby vice-president Bernard Laporte told French newspaper Le Progres that the Springboks would replace Japan in the European tournament, which has been organised in place of the usual November internationals.
SANZAAR, an alliance between South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina that runs Super Rugby and the international Rugby Championship, said on Monday the report was "pure speculation".
New Zealand Rugby said last month SANZAAR were keen on hosting the Rugby Championship in a 'hub' scenario, probably in New Zealand, and for it to run from early November to mid-December.
European rugby officials organised an eight-team tournament, involving the Six Nations countries plus Fiji and Japan, for the same time, although Japan's Kyodo news reported at the weekend the Brave Blossoms had withdrawn.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford)