Lapasset wants Japan to join Rugby Championship

Date published: November 11 2015

World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset wants Japan to play in the Rugby Championship alongside New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina.

According to a Reuters report, Lapasset called for the Brave Blossoms' inclusion in the Southern Hemisphere tournament in Tokyo earlier this week to promote rugby further in Asia.

The game's popularity in Japan has sky-rocketed after their national team claimed a shock 34-32 victory over two-time world champions South Africa at the Rugby World Cup in England recently.

Japan's franchise, the Sunwolves, will make their debut in next year's expanded 18-team Super Rugby tournament. The Sunwolves kick off their campaign against the Lions in Tokyo on Saturday, February 27.

"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," Lapasset told reporters.

"That's the top five – with Japan. Not just Tier 2 and Tier 1, the top five.

"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."

After their win over the Springboks, Japan went on to beat Samoa and the USA at the World Cup and they were the first team to be knocked out at the pool stages of the global showpiece with three wins.

Japan will also be in action at next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro after beating Hong Kong 24-10 in the final of the Asia Rugby Sevens Qualifier on Sunday.

Lapasset is determined for the game to grow across the Asian continent and believes the success of the Sunwolves will play a big part in reaching that goal.

"Super Rugby is a good format to promote rugby in the South that includes some matches in Singapore," he added.

"That's important to extend the value and the quality of the game in Asia."