Japan not keen on Super rugby's plans - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Japan not keen on Super rugby's plans

By Jim Morton 11/06/2009 02:51:14 PM Comments (0)

Japan coach John Kirwan says the Land of the Rising Sun has nothing to gain from being part of Super rugby's expansion plans.

Ruling out a bid for the open Super 15 licence and any later interest, Kirwan said there was no future for Japan competing against Australia, New Zealand and South Africa's provincial sides.

Australian Rugby Union supremo John O'Neill had spruiked the potential of expanding into the huge Japanese market in a future Super 16 or Super 18 by 2015 while Australia's players union has argued Japan was well placed for a 2011 Super 15 entry.

But All Blacks great Kirwan, in his third year as national coach, said a Japanese franchise would undermine the domestic competition which is driven by multinational corporations.

Japan's teams can afford to entice some of the best players in the world - such as Australian stars Toutai Kefu, George Gregan and Stephen Larkham - because they can draw on huge sums of corporate money.

Among Japan's domestic competition teams are Toyota, Yamaha, NEC, Kobe Steel, Mitsubishi, Toshiba and Coca-Cola.

"We don't want to (play in Super rugby) because we have 20 of the biggest sponsors in the world which spends between $US5-6 million on rugby teams," Kirwan said.

"So I can't see the point in having one franchise in Tokyo, all we're going to do is annoy Toyota which has a $US1 billion marketing budget.

"We don't see it has any future. We believe in a strong home competition.

"We need to keep it strong so we have 200 or 300 Japanese playing at a high level.

"We're doing that through getting Georgie Gregan and Steve Larkham up there this year.

"Our competition is getting better year in, year out. I think Super 14, in its current format, would break that down."

Kirwan would rather see a Heineken Cup-style southern hemisphere competition be formed and include Japanese, North American, Argentinian and Pacific Islands teams as well as the best from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

The Cherry Blossoms, ranked 15th in the world, led Queensland until late before losing 24-17 at Ballymore on Wednesday night, their final warm-up for the upcoming Pacific Nations Cup.

Former New Zealand winger Kirwan said Japan's bid to host the 2015 World Cup was crucial to the global future of rugby.

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