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Japan say they have enough Super Rugby players

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A spokesman for the Japanese Super Rugby club says that they remain confident
that they will have a team in next year’s Super Rugby tournament and have signed
enough players.

Reports earlier this week revealed that Super Rugby’s organisers SANZAR have
been working behind the scenes on emergency plans for stage the tournament without
including Japan.

SANZAR had planned to increase the number of Super rugby teams from 15 to 18
from 2016 bringing a sixth South African team, a team from Argentina and an
Asian team from Japan.

The Southern Kings Currie Cup team (EP Kings) in South Africa have yet to win
match this season in the Currie Cup and are understood to be having financial
troubles with players being paid late.

The Argentina team are however in a strong position and have signed nearly
all of their players and former SANZAR CEO Greg Peters is expected to be unveiled
on Monday as the team’s new manager.

SANZAR’s big concern is Japan as recent reports were that they had only signed
two players for next year and their Director of Rugby Eddie Jones announced
earlier in the week that he will be leaving Japan at the end of the year.

Japan Rugby Football Union general secretary Noriyuki Sakamoto has however
told Kyodo News that they have now signed the number of players that
they need to field a team next year.

Sakamoto would not confirm how many players they have signed but said that
SANZAR had given them a specific number (believed to be 25) of players to sign
and that they had now met with that number.

“We have enough (to play a game),” Sakamoto said ahead of Japan’s
Rugby World Cup warm up against Uruguay.

“We’ve met the number they’ve asked for,” he told Kyodo.

Sakamoto said that they have not yet contracted a head coach for 2016 but expect
to have a shortlist in time for Monday’s deadline when they have to report
to SANZAR again.

Sakamoto added that one of the reasons that the Japan Super Rugby Association
(JSRA) had not been able to sign a Super Rugby coach was because there was a
priority to find a replacement for Jones who will step down as national coach
and Japan’s Super Rugby director after the world cup.

The Japanese official said that he was unsure how SANZAR would react to the
latest proposal from the JSRA but he is confident that the his organisation
and SANZAR will eventually find an amicable solution.

“I can’t imagine they will take it off us after all we’ve
done,” he said.

“It’s how negotiations play out. Even if we happen to miss a deadline, we never
at any point said we would quit. We don’t know what they’ll say but if they
say what we submit isn’t good enough, we’ll ask why but we plan on honoring
our agreement with SANZAR.”

“In hindsight, we probably should have managed our time better. If someone
says we weren’t prepared enough we may not be able to refute that. But equally,
we didn’t think SANZAR would set as many deadlines as they have.”

“From our view, we want them to acknowledge that we’re trying and doing
everything we can to meet the schedule. I don’t think they have any reason to
turn us down but from their standpoint, they have their deadlines so we’ll have
to see.”

The official added that preparations for the Rugby World Cup had hindered them
and slowed things down at Super Rugby level as they are going all in for for
the World Cup in England.

It is understood that Eddie Jones had made a list of 35 players that should
be signed for the Super Rugby team and Sakamoto’s comments suggest that most
of the players would be coming from the current national side.

“It’s been a challenging year as you all know, with all the camps they’ve
held,” he said.

“They just haven’t been with their clubs. In any other year, they would’ve
had the time to talk to their teams, talk to their families, whoever.”

“But they’ve been locked up in Miyazaki (a world cup camp), getting up
at 5 a.m. every day to train. The players simply needed the time to think things
over. The schedule this year has been built around the World Cup and there’s
been a lot of tension throughout Japanese rugby. It might sound like an excuse,
but it has impacted all this.”

Even though Sakamoto says that they have signed enough players there are still
reports that Japan have only signed five players for next year.

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