Japan on the verge of Six Nations invite
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Japan could be set for an invite into the Six Nations following their spectacular run to the World Cup quarter-finals, according to British media reports.
The Daily Mail Online reported that Japan could “receive a shock invitation” to Europe’s premier international rugby competition after successfully hosting the World Cup, where they reached the knockout stages for the first time in their history.
The report from Daily Mail columnist Martin Samuel claimed the idea had “been floated in private after it emerged that the Rugby Championship — the Southern Hemisphere equivalent — were dithering about including the fast emerging Japanese and were proposing a delay of four or five years before sanctioning their involvement.”
Although no formal talks have yet been held, the Daily Mail said World Rugby were aware that “key figures within the Six Nations organisation have expressed an interest in creating a tournament that stretches 6000 miles to the Far East”.
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Through their scintillating brand of rugby, the Brave Blossoms have made a name for themselves as one of the most exciting prospects in international rugby under the tutelage of head coach Jamie Joseph and assistant Tony Brown.
Together, the Kiwi duo led Japan to pool play victories over Six Nations powerhouses Ireland and Scotland to help them secure their maiden play-offs berth.
Their potential within the global game isn’t restricted to just their on-field exploits, though.
The Japanese public were gripped by their national side’s performances throughout the World Cup, with 58 million people tuning in across the country to witness Japan’s win over Scotland, which solidified their place in the quarter-finals.
World Rugby reported a record 1.84 million tickets were sold for all 48 matches at the World Cup, totalling in a 99.3 percent attendance rate overall.
Another 1.13 million people visited the fan zones around Japan and there were more than 1.7 billion digital video views, while the tournament is said to have boosted Japan’s economy by $NZ 6.5 billion.
The prospect of Japan joining Six Nations and Rugby Championship sides in World Rugby’s mooted Nations Championship alongside fellow Tier two nation Fiji fell through earlier this year after the concept was met with opposition from Six Nations unions, who rejected the idea of having a promotion-relegation format.
Given the location of Japan in the North Pacific, the Brave Blossoms could slot into either one of the Six Nations or Rugby Championship, as flights between Tokyo and Europe are of similar distance to that of Australasia and Japan.
The Six Nations began in 1883 as the Home Nations, featuring England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
France was admitted into the competition 27 years later to form the Five Nations, while Italy joined in 2000.
The Rugby Championship began in 1996 as the Tri Nations involving New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, and was expanded to a four-team competition when Argentina joined in 2012.