World champions South Africa are being lined up to replace Japan in an eight-team rugby tournament in Europe at the end of the year.
The Brave Blossoms, who hosted last year’s World Cup, pulled out because of coronavirus travel restrictions.
Georgia were touted as replacements but World Rugby vice-chairman Bernard Laporte says they are now in “advanced discussions” with South Africa.
The Springboks involvement would put in doubt their participation in any Rugby Championship in New Zealand.
A spokesperson for South Africa Rugby said they had “no knowledge of such an arrangement being planned”.