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Japanese Super Rugby side falling behind

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The deadline for the yet to be named Japanese Super Rugby franchise to sign
players expires today and it is understood that they have not signed any players
yet.

Super Rugby will expand from 15 to 18 teams next year with an extra team from
Japan, Argentina and a sixth South African team.

The Japanese Super Rugby team is expected to be made up of Japanese Test players
with a compliment of foreign or marquee players.

Japanese international players earn most of their wages from the company owned
teams that they play for in Japan’s Top League rather than the Japanese
Rugby Union who will operate the new Super Rugby team.

“Without a doubt it’s a serious issue which we need to monitor
very closely,” SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters told The Australian
of the recruitment process.

“It’s a steep learning curve for the management of the new entity
to understand how the contracting process works.

“They have their own particular local nuances. They are working through
those issues. They have a different contracting model that we don’t have
here.”

When asked whether he knew if the Japanese franchise had signed any players
Peters said, “I don’t know the answer to that until we get
this report.”

“We will be expecting a pretty robust progress report at that date. We’ll
review that when it comes in and see exactly where they are at.

“We have had regular dialogue with the new entity up there. Speaking
to them weekly for reports on their readiness.

“I know they are in very serious conversations. The contracting model
because it’s different likely means once one signs there will be a number
of signatures pretty quickly, particularly the core group of players, which
is the World Cup squad.

“We are aware of the process they are undertaking to sign players. They
are in dialogue with a number of players.

“They have presented offers to a number of players. They have had
dialogue with the companies that run the Top League teams who, and I use the
word advisedly, ‘own’ the players, because a lot of the players
are lifetime employees of those companies.

“What we need to understand is that it is a different environment than
what you would see in New Zealand or Australia or South Africa or Argentina.”

Peters did say that the Japanese franchise were making progress on the commercial
side of things including sponsorship and arrangements to play three games a
season in Singapore.

The Japanese Rugby Union have already appointed former Wallabies head coach
Eddie Jones who has vast experience in Super Rugby having coached the Brumbies
and the Reds.

“The coaching structure is finalised,” Peters said.

“Eddie Jones is their director of rugby. There will be some local coaches
he uses as well as potentially some other names that we are aware they are speaking
to, but they haven’t been announced yet.”

The Japanese Top League rugby season runs from September to January so the
team will only have four to six weeks to prepare for the Super Rugby season

“They have changed the structure of the Top League to allow a warm-up
period of between four and six weeks,” Peters said. .

“Top League runs from September to late January, depending on whether
you are in the finals. They will have camps during the season.”

Peters played a core role in getting Argentina into the TriNations – now Rugby
Championship – and getting a team into Super Rugby and he will leave SANZAR
after finalising the new broadcast agreement to manage the new Argentinian Super
Rugby franchise.

The former Hurricanes boss said that unlike the Japanese franchise the new
South American franchise are progressing well.

“There is a really strong group of players who are already signed, including
a number of players coming back from Europe,” Peters said.

“And there are some to be signed in the very near future.”

“It’s going to be a pretty competitive side with a number of big
names.” added Peters.

“The deal’s been done. It’s just a matter of finalising the
long form agreement,” Peters said.

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