Super Rugby: Clash with Top League likely to leave Sunwolves without Japanese players for final season


The Sunwolves will be expected to field a team in the 2020 Super Rugby season despite reports they will be officially dropped from the future of the competition later this week.

SANZAAR is expected to announce the Sunwolves will be axed from the competition, however with the current broadcast agreement running until the end of the 2020 season, the Japanese club will still have to field a team next year.

That team is likely to be made up of a host of Kiwi and Australian players, with the season set to clash with the Japanese Top League 2019-20 campaign, which has been pushed back due to the World Cup.

The Daily Telegraph reports that many of the Sunwolves’ Japanese talents are also contracted in the Top League which is where they earn the bulk of their salaries. As a result, they won’t be available for the Sunwolves.

This season’s Sunwolves are already loaded with Anzac talent, with 14 Kiwis and four Australians among this year’s squad.

The demise of the Sunwolves was largely championed by South Africa. Reports noted South Africa pushed hard for the change as they opposed having to travel to Asia to play them and because of a lack of fan attendance during road games.

The Japanese franchise has struggled since joining Super Rugby in 2016, winning just seven of their 43 games. They won their first away game this month when they upset the Chiefs 30-15 in Hamilton.

However, being axed from Super Rugby won’t necessarily be the end of the Sunwolves, with talks of a six-team second division in the pipeline.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports it would be a SANZAAR-endorsed competition part-owned by Andrew Forrest, Australia’s mining billionaire, with a Japanese team to be added to the founding Rapid Rugby clubs, the Western Force, Fiji, Samoa, Hong Kong and Singapore. A Malaysian team and a second Australian team could also be added.

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Publish date : 2019-03-20 19:22:38

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