JAPAN has been confirmed as the preferred candidate for Super Rugby's 18th team, beating Singapore in the race to be the first Asian franchise in the prestigious southern hemisphere competition when it expands in 2016.
"Compelling proposals were put forth by Japan and Singapore in what was a very competitive tender process and we thank both parties for their passion in sharing our vision to expand the competition to new fans, territories and commercial markets," Greg Peters, chief executive of South African, New Zealand and Australian Rugby (Sanzar), said on Friday.
"While ultimately edged out in this instance, Singapore presented a highly attractive bid and we will maintain a positive relationship with an eye to potentially working with them in the future."
Singapore could still host Super Rugby matches as Japan's bid proposal includes the prospect of Singapore hosting up to four matches starting from the 2016 season. It is understood that part of the agreement includes Japan's new Super Rugby outfit and its national team running regular coaching clinics and seminars in Singapore.
Japan's growing domestic league and its hosting of the 2019 World Cup won over Sanzar, although South African officials were reportedly unhappy over the long travelling distance.