Japanese rugby is now on a high with the national team enjoying its most successful Rugby World Cup campaign in 24-years and a record 20 million viewers in Japan tuning in to watch the team’s match against Scotland.
The Singapore National Stadium will host matches featuring the Japanese-based team in the third, fifth and 12th rounds against the Central Cheetahs, Northern Bulls and Western Stormers respectively, SANZAR said.
The first Super Rugby fixture to take place in Japan will be on February 27 with Lions making the visit to Tokyo, while the Argentinian side travels to Bloemfontein to face Cheetahs a day earlier.
The new expansion sees a total of four conferences.
“We are also confident that the selection of the Tokyo stadium for the opening match and the final in the global Stadium Yokohama will provide a spectacular backdrop for the tournament across Japan, throughout Asia and around the world”.
The inclusion of teams from Japan and Argentina, as well as the return of South African franchise the Kings, will see the competition expanded to 18 teams, split into an Australian conference (five teams), a New Zealand conference (five teams), and two South African conferences (four teams each).
Super Rugby tournament organisers SANZAR released the draw for the 2016 event yesterday, sketching in the first-ever matches for teams from Argentina and Japan and for South Africa’s Kings. “We want to grow our fan base and ensure existing fans stay loving our game”, he said. “So, yes, numerous current Japan players are likely to play in the Super 18s”.
On the field, teams will vie for a stunning new trophy.
Africa Conference 1, which will play against the Australian conference in 2016, is made up of the Bulls, Cheetahs, Stormers and the Japanese team. The chrome and gold-plated piece is meant to capture the prestige, grandeur and resilience of one of the world’s toughest sporting competitions.
Australian Rugby’s oldest rivalry continues when the NSW Waratahs host the Queensland Reds in an opening-round blockbuster in Sydney.
Having undertaken a full review and analysis of the hosting model as a effect of the loss of Tokyo’s new National Stadium as a host venue, World Rugby’s Executive Committee is satisfied that the revised vision proposed by the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee, with the full support of the Japan Government, meets the required criteria set by owners Rugby World Cup Limited and the World Rugby Council.
It had been a key element of their winning bid and the scrapping of it had upset World Rugby greatly – it led eventually to the Japanese sports minister tendering his resignation last Friday.