Japan to join Rugby Championship?

2015-11-11 09:50

Tokyo - World Rugby chairperson Bernard Lapasset has voiced his backing for Japan's inclusion in the Southern Hemisphere Rugby Championship competition alongside South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina.

The sport is enjoying a surge in popularity in the country that will host the next World Cup in 2019 and after securing a franchise in Super Rugby, Lapasset believes a similar deal at international level is a distinct possibility.

Japan beat off a bid from Singapore to enter next year's expanded 18-side tournament and will get their first taste of Super Rugby action at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo on February 27 when they host the Lions.

"Japan is part of the total global vision of the rugby that we are promoting in the world, especially in the south with Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia," Lapasset told reporters in Tokyo on Monday.

"That's the top five - with Japan. Not just Tier 2 and Tier 1, the top five," the Frenchman added.

"We need to achieve the process that all five will be pushing together to develop the southern competition and to promote the best rugby ever that we can do in the South.

"We did the same in the north with the Six Nations. Now it will be the five nations in the south."

The popularity of rugby in Japan has rocketed after the Brave Blossoms stunned two-time world champions South Africa with a last-gasp 34-32 win at the recent World Cup in England.

They went on to become the first team to bow out of the pool stages with three wins but had better luck in completing a second-half rally against hosts Hong Kong on Sunday to book a berth at the 2016 Olympic rugby sevens tournament in Rio.

Television viewing figures in Japan soared after the South Africa game and Lapasset has fixed his sights firmly on increasing the sport's popularity across the rest of Asia.

"The Super Rugby is a good format to promote rugby in the south that includes some matches in Singapore. That's important to extend the value and the quality of the game in Asia," he said.


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

SA Rugby's coaching indaba is set to take place this week. Do you think the two-day think-tank will make any difference?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.