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Japan wins bid for expansion Super Rugby licence

Japan wins bid for expansion Super Rugby licence
October 24, 2014

Japan will host Super Rugby’s 18th team when the pan-regional club competition expands in 2016 with organiser SANZAR advising today (24th October) that the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) had edged out a rival bid from Singapore.

Following a meeting of its Executive Committee, SANZAR, the umbrella body for the Australian, New Zealand and South African unions, said it has informed the JRFU that it is the “preferred candidate” for the 18th team.

Explaining the meeting, SANZAR Chief Executive Greg Peters stated “this week's meeting was a significant step in the evolution of Super Rugby.

“Compelling proposals were put forth by Japan and Singapore in what was a very competitive tender process and we thank both parties for their passion in sharing our vision to expand the competition to new fans, territories and commercial markets.

“While ultimately edged out in this instance, Singapore presented a highly attractive bid and we will maintain a positive relationship with an eye to potentially working with them in the future.

“Following the Executive Committee's decision however, SANZAR will now work exclusively with the JRFU to finalise arrangements for their entry in to Super Rugby, subject to execution of the formal participation agreement.”

In July, SANZAR announced that bids from Japan and Singapore were being considered for a licence for a team to compete Super Rugby’s expanded competition having earlier unveiled plans to expand the competition to 18 teams.

The tournament currently features five teams each from South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, but is set to expand to 18 teams from 2016 through the addition of new clubs from Argentina and South Africa, along with the new Japanese team.

The announcement was pre-empted by a statement from Singapore’s bid committee, seemingly conceding defeat to Japan.

Eric Series, the financial backer of the Singapore bid, stated “clearly Japan is a mature, established rugby market, whilst Singapore is new to the global rugby scene.

“Consequently, we understand that for an established organisation such as SANZAR, and its three Unions, that there may have been a reluctance to break with tradition.”

With its newly completed National Stadium, Singapore has been keenly building its rugby credentials. However, Japan has competed on the world stage in recent decades, is the host the 2019 Rugby World Cup and, by contrast with Singapore, has a thriving domestic league.

However, Singapore could yet play a part in Japan’s Super Rugby team after it was reported earlier this month that Japan had offered to host matches in Singapore as a means to alleviate concerns over long travel times from South Africa.

The 18th franchise would be pooled in one of two African conferences, meaning 10-hour flight times for teams coming from Johannesburg to Singapore, with Tokyo another eight hours by air from the city-state.

As part of July’s announcement, SANZAR had stated that geographic location was among the key criteria when shortlisting the two Asian bids.



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