South Africa to blame for Sunwolves’ axing
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Sunwolves head coach Tony Brown believes the ‘bad blood’ between South Africa and Japan had led to the decision for the Japanese-based franchise to be axed from Super Rugby after 2020.
SANZAAR revealed last week, the competition to revert back to a 14-team format for the 2021 season with the existing five New Zealand teams, four South African teams, four Australian teams and the Jaguares from South America the only teams in the tournament.
Speaking on the Fox Sports Podcast, Brown says the South Africans were ‘dead against’ having the Sunwolves involved.
“Nothing’s easy for the Sunwolves and obviously the devastating news that we were going to be out of the competition in 2021 is very disappointing,” Brown said.
“It wasn’t a big surprise, we were probably just hoping there was a slim chance we could survive and build something sustainable for years to come.
“There were so many things that went on and the South Africans were just dead against having the Sunwolves involved,”
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The South Africans have always been vocal about their displeasure with the travel demands for their teams with a Japanese-based franchise involved, which led to Singapore-hosting games in front of a handful of spectators.
But Brown believes the ‘bad blood’ stems from the Rugby World Cup vote.
The hosting rights for the 2023 event went to France.
“There’s a bit of resentment from what happened at the World Cup vote a few years ago and it’s a relationship that’s been pretty rough ever since the Sunwolves with Super Rugby.
“The next World Cup, France beating out South Africa for the hosting rights, I think there’s a little bit of bad blood there and various things like that counted against the Sunwolves.”
“So many things that were against the Sunwolves and it wasn’t really surprising that SANZAAR has decided not to have them involved.
SANZAAR claimed that the JRFU weren’t able to contribute enough financially to sustain the franchise, while reports surfaced that South Africa had threatened financial penalties to Australia and New Zealand should the Sunwolves remain.
“It was not that we were unwilling to underwrite the Sunwolves, we just couldn’t agree the financial terms presented to us by SANZAAR with other demands on our budget,” JRFU Chairman Noriyuki Sakamoto told Kyodo News.
* Listen to what SANZAAR said about it …
In a report by Kyodo News, the JRFU were asked to provide a $5m participation fee, pay $2m in travel expenses and forego certain broadcast revenue rights in a harsh move intended to strong-arm them financially. The conditions imposed weren’t applicable to any other team in the competition and were almost certain to result in Sunwolves being pulled.
SANZAAR’s statement stated that the JRFU had ‘determined’ Super Rugby has no longer the best pathway for the Japan national team, a claim that Tony Brown doesn’t agree with.
“I can’t see Japan Top League being as effective as the Sunwolves playing in Super Rugby, at preparing guys for international rugby,” Brown said.
“The last 3-4 years has been huge for the Japanese development as far as players being able to test themselves against some of the best players in the world.”