Japan, Singapore join forces in SR bid

Date published: October 9 2014

Japan appear to have secured the final berth in the Super Rugby expansion in 2016 after agreeing to host matches in Singapore.

Japan appear to have secured the final berth in the expanded Super Rugby competition in 2016 after agreeing to host matches in Singapore, the other side in contention to become the 18th participant in two years’ time.

Three sides have been added to the 2016 Super Rugby competition – Japan or Singapore, South Africa’s Southern Kings and an Argentinean-based side.

Until Wednesday, the main stumbling block for the Japanese bid was believed to be additional travel times for the South African teams – a flight from Johannesburg to Singapore is approximately 10 hours while Tokyo is another eight hours by air from the city-state.

South African Rugby Union (SARU) President Oregan Hoskins, however, confirmed to reporters that the Japanese bid has been changed and will now include Singapore as host for some of the matches it is scheduled to host.

Reuters reports that the Singapore National Stadium – a 55,000-seat venue with a retractable roof – will host as many as four matches that feature the Japanese side, even though the exact format for the 2016 competition hasn’t been finalised yet.

“We are supporting one bid, but we are the venue for the other bid so it doesn’t matter,” Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) President Low Teo Ping revealed.

Suggestions that Hong Kong is also considered as a possible host have been denied by Low, though.

“Hong Kong is not part of the equation,” Low added.

Low’s bashful reply and Hoskins’ confirmation of a changed bid suggests that a Japanese outfit is more than likely to be the final entry.

The country possesses a flourishing domestic league that is already able to attract some of the biggest names in the game while the national team is a regular at the World Cup which boasts victories over Wales and Italy in the recent past.

Singapore, on the other hand, will enter a team featuring mainly Pacific Islanders – sponsored by the chairman of Samoa Water Eric Series – should their bid be successful.

The fact that Singapore has no professional league to speak of and its lowly status in the world game has been mentioned as reasons why their bid should not succeed.

“[It’s] a joke that Singapore is even being considered as the base for the 18th Super Rugby team when Japan ticks all the right boxes for forward thinking,” Japan coach and former Wallabies boss Eddie Jones said previously.

Hoskins, though, refused to rule out either, saying that both proposals have their merits.

“They have put forward their proposals, they are really both attractive,” Hoskins noted.

“I wish I could tell you which way SANZAR is going to go but right now SANZAR has not decided. SANZAR is considering it quite diligently. It’s very much under discussion, serious discussion.”