Sunwolves likely to face Super Rugby cut

SYDNEY • Japan's Sunwolves team - who are co-based in Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong - are set to be axed from Super Rugby, with Sanzaar soon to make an announcement about their future.

According to Sydney's Daily Telegraph, they will be sacrificed as the 15-team, globe-crossing event reverts to 14 sides and a round-robin format, ditching its unpopular conference system.

Last year, Super Rugby shrank from 18 teams to 15, dropping two teams from South Africa and one from Australia in an attempt to streamline the event.

But governing body Sanzaar retained the country-based conference system, which has been criticised for its complexity and for giving an easier ride to teams from weaker regions.

The Daily Telegraph's report was corroborated by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian, with Sanzaar primed to speak on the "future of Super Rugby" tomorrow.

Sunwolves officials and players were on Tuesday told about the decision, reportedly at the behest of South African teams, who have been "opposed to travelling" to Asia for away games.

It was said that the team were "devastated" at the news.

  • Sunwolves have won just once in their five Super Rugby games played this season.

The report added: "All of the participating nations in Super Rugby have been financially propping up the Sunwolves in the hopes of luring more revenue from the untapped Asian market.

"It had been hoped that after two or three seasons, cashed-up Japanese companies would back the Sunwolves and make them independently sustainable, but that has not materialised."

Their introduction in 2016 was part of attempts to expand the game in Asia, which will host its first Rugby World Cup in Japan in September.

The Sunwolves will play South African outfit, the Lions, at the National Stadium on Saturday in what could be their final appearance in Singapore.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2019, with the headline 'Sunwolves likely to face Super Rugby cut'. Print Edition | Subscribe