Jones: Japan a 'no-brainer'
Former World Cup-winning Springbok assistant coach Eddie Jones has added his considerable weight to Japan's cause for a Super Rugby franchise.
SANZAR, earlier this week, revealed that it has become a two-horse race for the 18 franchise when Super Rugby expands in 2016 – with Japan and Singapore the preferred bids.
The 18th franchise will play in the South African conference.
It leaves other interesting parties like Europe and North America out in the cold.
The South African Rugby Union have a preference for a franchise based in a time zone more aligned to their domestic teams – which makes Singapore (just six hours ahead of SA) their preferred franchise.
Jones, who was assistant to Jake White during the Boks' victorious 2007 World Cup campaign and currently coaches Japan, insisted Super Rugby would "lose credibility" if they were to ignore Japan's application and also described it as the only "logical" choice.
"In terms of growing the game you'd think they would choose Japan," the former Wallaby coach told AFP.
"Singapore has no rugby history at all. They would just be coming and plonking a team of Pacific islanders there.
"It can't be the right choice," he added.
"That's just crazy."
Jones has guided Japan's 'Brave Blossoms' to a record 10 successive wins, culminating in a 26-23 victory over Italy in Tokyo last month – which saw the Asian champions break into the world's top 10 for the first time.
"Japan's 10th in the world, has the world's fourth biggest rugby playing population, the world's third biggest economy," said Jones.
"Japan hosts the World Cup in 2019.
"But professional rugby is all about money so there could be other economic factors."
SANZAR will make a decision in September or October.
Super Rugby will expand from 15 teams to 18 in 2016, with the return of the Southern Kings from South Africa's Eastern Cape and a team based in Argentina already previously confirmed.
The suggestion that Singapore could be selected in order to cut down on flying times for South African sides was given short shrift by Jones, currently preparing his side for next year's World Cup in England.
"Just because it's 11 hours from South Africa?" he said, adding: "You have to take rugby to growth centres, not artificial places."
SANZAR's decision has raised concerns the extra teams will dilute the competition's quality.
Sharks coach Jake White pined for a return to the old format, where all teams played home and away games over the season, rather than being divided into a conference format.
That view is not shared by Jones, who gave credit to football's ruling body FIFA for taking the World Cup to Asia for the first time in 2002.
"FIFA has been criticised for a lot of things but they've really managed to grow soccer," he said. "When they brought the 2002 World Cup to Japan and South Korea it really helped boost the game across Asia."
Source : AFP