SA Rugby dismisses 'revenge over Japan' claims
Cape Town - SA Rugby has dismissed a claim that its push for the Sunwolves' axing from Super Rugby was motivated by getting revenge over Japan.
"SANZAAR made a joint-decision on the future of Super Rugby, as confirmed in the governing body's recent media statement," spokesperson for SA Rugby told Netwerk24.
SA Rugby was responding to comments made by Sunwolves coach Tony Brown, who told Fox Sports that their demise was because SA Rugby wanted to exact revenge on its Japanese counterpart for not voting for South Africa to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The hosting rights went to France, who had duelled with South Africa and Ireland for the rights to host the global showpiece.
"There's a bit of resentment from what happened at the World Cup vote a few years ago, and it's a relationship that's been pretty rough ever since," the former All Black flyhalf said earlier this week.
"It wasn't a big surprise, we were probably just hoping there was a slim chance we could survive and build something sustainable for years to come.
"There were so many things that went on and the South Africans were just dead against having the Sunwolves involved."
Regarding Brown's claims that revenge had played a part in South Africa pushing for the Sunwolves' exclusion, SA Rugby added: "It's not our style to respond to rumours and allegations."
SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said the Sunwolves decision was "not taken lightly", and held open the possibility of a Super Rugby Asia-Pacific competition also involving Pacific nations, the Americas and Hong Kong.
"SANZAAR was advised by the Japan Rugby Football Union in early March that they would no longer be in a position to financially underwrite the Sunwolves' future participation post 2020," Marinos said in a statement.
Super Rugby will return to a 14-team competition played on a round-robin basis from 2021.