World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset says that Japan should be added to the Southern Hemisphere’s Rugby Championship competition alongside New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina.
Argentina joined the TriNations sides in 2012 and the tournament became known as the Rugby Championship. Since then they have beaten both South Africa and Australia lost all of their matches against New Zealand.
Rugby in Japan is enjoying a surge in popularity after their national team the Brave Blosssoms beat South Africa’s Springboks in the world cup and this has helped build excitement for the World Cup in 2019 which will be staged in the country.
In Super Rugby Japan beat a bid from Singapore to be the Asian Super Rugby team in an expanded competition that kicks off in February 2016.
Lapasset believes that a similar deal at international level for the Brave Blosssoms joiniing the Rugby Championship is a distinct possibility.
“Japan is part of the total global vision of the rugby that we are promoting in the world, especially in the South with Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia,” said Lapasset s in Tokyo.
“That’s the top five — with Japan. Not just Tier 2 and Tier 1, the top five,” the Frenchman told Reuters.
“We need to achieve the process that all five will be pushing together to develop the southern competition and to promote the best rugby ever that we can do in the South.
“We did the same in the North with the Six Nations. Now it will be the five nations in the South.”
Japan’s performance at the Rugby World cup meant that they became the first team to bow out of the pool stages with three wins and TV viewing figures soared when the team was playing in the world cup.
Now that interest in Japan is at a high Lapasset has set his sights on continuing the positivity and increasing the popularity throughout Asia.
“The Super Rugby is a good format to promote rugby in the South that includes some matches in Singapore. “
“That’s important to extend the value and the quality of the game in Asia,” he said.