Japan to play 'peace-maker' in Trans-Tasman Super Rugby stand-off
NEWS: As the Wallabies and All Blacks prepare to battle for the Bledisloe Cup, Japan is offering to be the peace-maker in the simmering Super Rugby stand-off between the trans-Tasman rivals.
And their proposal has the support of Wallaby veteran Quade Cooper, who plays in Japan when not on Test duty.
Japanese teams are becoming much stronger due to the quality of international recruits and the impact of international coaches and they are cashed up – with money the crux of the fall-out between Australia and New Zealand rugby bodies.
The Australians are threatening to leave the Super Rugby Pacific competition at the end of the current agreement in 2023 if the Kiwis don’t agree to an even split of broadcast revenue.
Japan Rugby League One chairman Genichi Tamatsuka said including Japanese teams would be a win-win as they would improve through more exposure to Australian and New Zealand Super teams, while there would be more broadcast dollars.
“We don’t know precisely the situation for the Super Rugby future and what kind of decisions people will make,” Tamatsuka told AAP.
“However, one thing that’s very obvious for us is that we need a cross-border type of competition to push up our quality of the league.
“We continuously discuss with the many unions, other foreign leagues, and we aggressively seek the opportunity.
“We can have some sort of cross-border competition, some of our teams building to play in some of the competition, so those are the things we want to do but we haven’t made a final decision yet.”
Japan doesn’t want to play favourites, wanting to keep their relationship intact with national bodies and play against Australian and New Zealand teams.
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Eager to add more games to their Japan Rugby League One five-month competition calendar they propose that there are some cross-border matches when their tournament finishes at the end of May.
Tamatsuka said such matches would prove popular with Japanese audiences.
Cooper was also a fan of involving teams from Japan Rugby League One, where other current Wallabies Marika Koroibete and Samu Kerevi also play.
Cooper told AAP his preference was for Australian and New Zealand teams to play in domestic conferences and the top teams then move on to face each other and the best Japanese club teams.
He felt Japan had much to offer and could add another element to the current Super Rugby Pacific set-up.
“Let’s get the top two teams from the Japan league, Super AU and Super Rugby NZ and play quarters, semis and a final,” Cooper said.
“So it will be like Europe; play domestic competitions and then the Champions Cup for the top six teams and the others could play in a Challenge Cup so there’s still something to play for them as well.
“There would be three domestic winners and then an Australasian champion, so it’s an interesting concept.”