World Cup winner hopes Japan not lost to Super Rugby
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: World Cup-winning Wallaby Matt Cockbain hopes Japan isn’t lost to Super Rugby permanently.
The Sunwolves, who have been part of Super Rugby since 2016, will be cut from the tournament after this year.
Attempts to include them in an Australian version of the Super tournament starting in July failed because of challenges created by COVID-19 preventing the team from having time to prepare.
A 63 Test forward who was part of the 1999 Wallabies World Cup winning side, Waratahs forwards coach Cockbain spent six years either playing or coaching in Japan in two stints since he finished his distinguished Wallabies career.
Cockbain joined the Waratahs after a stint as head coach of the Ricoh club in Tokyo.
“Hopefully in the future Japan as a market is not lost to Super Rugby, we can find a way to somehow include that in a future model,” Cockbain said.
“I’m not sure how realistic that’s going to be obviously with the restraints and restrictions around the game at the moment, with travel and also financially,
“But it would be sad to see the Japanese and the Sunwolves in particular, lost forever.
“There is is talk around next season I believe the [Japanese] Top League is going to be run in conjunction with the Super Rugby window, so it’s going to be interesting to see how it all fits together and then moving forward, in a global calendar of rugby.”
Cockbain was optimistic the goal of playing for Australia meant it wouldn’t lose even more players to Japanese clubs, who in recent times have signed several prominent Wallabies including George Smith, Adam Ashley-Cooper, David Pocock,and Samu Kerevi.
“These times are a challenge to keep playing talent, because it’s a global market,” Cockbain said.
“But in saying that, I’d like to think the lure of the gold jersey and the tradition and all that goes with it, still means something to the players.”
Rugby Australia on Monday announced it was shedding around a third of its staff and on Tuesday interim CEO Rob Clarke suggested each member union would be looking at their own cuts.
Cockbain wasn’t sure how that might potentially impact on the Tahs, but said staff would continue to focus on improving their players and winning games.
“That other stuff is out of our control,” he said.