The evolution of Super Rugby is set to expand into Asia with SANZAR confirming that tenderers from Japan and Singapore will vie for the license to run a team when the competition grows to 18 participants in 2016.
Following an initial expression of interest process, SANZAR has created a shortlist of these two Asian-based applicants that best meet the criteria required to successfully run a Super Rugby franchise and will subsequently proceed with the full tender before a decision is reached in September/October.
"We are now able to confirm that two parties from Asia will compete for the opportunity to join an expanded Super Rugby competition in 2016," said SANZAR CEO Greg Peters said.
"Asia is a region that has been the focus of considerable investment by the IRB in recent years and is a strategically sound location for the evolution of Super Rugby.
"We were happy with the number of responses received, however the two stand-out expressions of interest that were most attractive to the SANZAR Unions were received from Japan and Singapore.
"Each bid has the support of the respective National Unions and includes other interested parties who will provide commercial and business support required for a venture of this nature."
The two bidders now have until mid-August to submit formal tender documents, outlining why they are best-positioned to join the world's premier international provincial rugby competition when it expands to 18 teams in 2016.
The bids will be assessed against the key criteria of commercial value, infrastructure, geographic location, rugby readiness and ongoing sustainability.
The return of the Kings from South Africa's Eastern Cape and a team based in Argentina have already been confirmed by SANZAR when the format was announced in May.