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Former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones believes a Japanese side must be included when Super Rugby expands to an 18-team competition in 2016. Jones, who has been coaching in Japan since 2009 and currently mentors the national side, says rugby is enjoying enormous growth in Asia and must be represented.
“Rugby is booming in Asia so any decision other than a Japanese team to complete the list of Super 18 sides for 2016 would be ridiculous,” Jones wrote in his column on news.com.au. “It is not just Japan’s hosting rights for the 2019 Rugby World Cup that is reinvigorating interest in the game in Asia but also rugby sevens at the 2016 Rio Olympics. I hear rumours that China has a training hothouse of over 500 of its best female athletes preparing for the Olympics in Rio and rugby is part of that zealous focus.
Super Rugby’s governing body SANZAR confirmed the competition will expand to 18 teams from 2016 and will see South Africa granted a sixth team, with one team from Argentina and another from a yet to be determined location to make up the 18.
“Japan would relish a team in Super Rugby and the chance to improve a world ranking nudging the top 10,”Jones said. “With major world companies including Toyota, Suntory, Panasonic, Toshiba and Canon plus rugby-loving corporate bosses, the right financial support will not be issue. The Japanese national side, supported by marquee Pacific Islander players, is how I see a new Super Rugby side.
“From Australia’s point of view, a new rugby economy in Asia opens up on their doorstep and I understand ARU boss Bill Pulver strongly believes Japan is where the 18th team should come from. The commercial ties could greatly benefit Australia. The fact the Melbourne Rebels have picked up a Japanese sponsor, Yakult, and have Japanese hooker Shota Horie in their side is a strong hint.”
Jones: Japan a must for expanded competition