Rugby: Sanzaar to rule on Super Rugby as Sunwolves await fate

Dan Pryor (centre) of the Sunwolves battles to keep the ball during the Round 5 Super Rugby match between Japan's Sunwolves and Australia's Queensland Reds at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo on March 16, 2019.
Dan Pryor (centre) of the Sunwolves battles to keep the ball during the Round 5 Super Rugby match between Japan's Sunwolves and Australia's Queensland Reds at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo on March 16, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - Southern hemisphere rugby's governing body (Sanzaar) said on Wednesday (March 20) it will clarify the future of Super Rugby at the end of the week, with Australian media reporting the Tokyo-based Sunwolves are to be cut from the competition.

Sanzaar said it would make an official statement on the tournament on Friday (March 22).

"Sanzaar and its stakeholders will not be making any comment on Super Rugby until the statement has been released," it added in a media release.

The Australian newspaper reported on Wednesday that Sanzaar had already decided to cut the struggling Sunwolves, who have won just seven of their 43 matches since joining the competition in 2016.

The report, citing an unnamed Sunwolves spokesperson, said the team had objected to a request from Sanzaar to pay a Super Rugby participation fee, which is not asked of any of the other franchises.

The Sunwolves and Japan Rugby Football Association were unable to provide immediate comment.

The Sunwolves are currently fourth in the five-team Australian conference of Super Rugby, having lost four of their five first games of the season.

The Sunwolves joined Super Rugby along with South Africa's Southern Kings and Argentine side Jaguares when the competition expanded from 15 to 18 teams.

The Japanese side retained their spot when the tournament reverted to 15 teams last year after the expanded format proved unpopular with fans and broadcasters.