Jones: Japan inclusion 'fantastic'

2014-11-21 12:27
Eddie Jones (Gallo Images)

Tokyo - Japan coach Eddie Jones on Friday said the inclusion of a Tokyo-based team in Super Rugby will give the Asian champions a massive boost before the country hosts the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Jones said that the erstwhile World Cup pushovers, with just one win in the tournament so far, would improve by "60 to 100 percent" with Super Rugby experience.

"It's fantastic," said the former Australia coach, after Tokyo and Buenos Aires were formally granted franchises in the world's premier international club competition.

"It gives Japan the chance to become a leading rugby nation in the world.

"Having a new tier of rugby come in which is essentially for the development of Test rugby players is just ideal for Japanese rugby."

His sentiments were echoed by Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) chairperson Tatsuzo Yabe.

"We believe that such a positive development will be a driving force for Japan rugby to move forward on the world stage," said Yabe.

"We will continue to make every endeavour to be successful at this level as we look toward Super Rugby in 2016, the 2019 Rugby World Cup and beyond."

Jones promised Japan's "Brave Blossoms" would make dramatic progress following the decision by Super Rugby organisers SANZAR to include a Tokyo team from 2016.

"Definitely now you can have players going into that 2019 World Cup with 40 or 50 Super caps on top of 40 or 50 Test caps," he said. "Then you've got really experienced players and that's key going forward.

"You're looking at doubling the experience of players having played top-level rugby so the difference is anywhere from 60 to 100 percent.

"We've got guys now coming out of university or (Japan's) Top League and playing Test match rugby. The jump for those guys is unbelievably big."

"To have Super Rugby in between will mean they'll come in much more prepared to play Test rugby," added Jones, whose Japanese side broke into the world's top 10 for the first time earlier this year and won their 11th successive Test match against Romania last week.

"It gives Japan's top players the opportunity to play consistent top-level rugby, which will hone their skills far greater than playing 10 Test matches a year and Top League. It's just a wonderful opportunity for players to develop."

Jones, who took over from New Zealand great John Kirwan following Japan's meek exit from the 2011 World Cup, said regular exposure to the punishing competition of Super Rugby would also improve the mental toughness and decision-making of the Japanese.

"At the moment we've got a group of players who have accumulated Test caps but don't have the base of Super Rugby - and that just adds to their playing experience, knowledge and hardiness to play rugby at a top level consistently," he said.

"It is a real opportunity to change Japanese rugby."

Jones has targeted a place in the quarter-finals at next year's World Cup, even though Japan have one just once at rugby's showcase event, beating minnows Zimbabwe in 1991.

But the 54-year-old believes Japan's entry into an expanded Super Rugby tournament of 18 teams, also including a franchise based in Buenos Aires, will add more steel and help dispel the notion they have a glass jaw on the big occasion.

"I can remember coaching the Brumbies in '98," he said. "We lost I think seven games by less than seven points and came 10th.

"Following year, we lost five by seven points and came fifth. Then the following year we only lost two games by seven points, and ended up coming second.

"That's what happens. You learn to win those close games, you learn what you've got to do, know what tactics you've got to deploy, the mental part of it - it all comes from the experience of playing top-level games."

Read more on:    eddie jones  |  rugby

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