Shogo Nakano of Sunwolves makes a break during the Super Rugby match between the Chiefs at Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground on February 15, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. Picture: THE ASAHI SHIMBUN/GETTY IMAGES
Shogo Nakano of Sunwolves makes a break during the Super Rugby match between the Chiefs at Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground on February 15, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. Picture: THE ASAHI SHIMBUN/GETTY IMAGES

Tokyo — Japan’s Sunwolves said on Tuesday they would be eager to participate in Rugby Australia’s (RA) proposed tournament in July as it would allow the side to leave a legacy before their Super Rugby departure.

On Monday, RA said it was looking at including the Western Force and the Sunwolves in a competition with their four Super Rugby sides to start in early July.

The resumption of Super Rugby is impossible because of international travel bans, so Australia is looking to follow New Zealand’s lead by setting up a one-country competition to get players back on the pitch.

Before Super Rugby was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Sunwolves were playing in their final season before being axed from the otherwise southern hemisphere competition.

Sunwolves CEO Yuji Watase welcomed the proposal and said he would be happy for the team to be based in Australia for the duration of the competition.

“Yes, we’ve been discussing with Rugby Australia about restarting the competition and they’ve been helping us to proceed with our involvement,” Watase told Reuters on Tuesday.

The 2020 season was set to be the Sunwolves’ last in Super Rugby, after the competition’s governing body, Sanzaar, and the Japan Rugby Football Union failed to agree on the terms of their inclusion.

“This is to be the last season, and we definitely would like to leave a legacy,” said Watase, who added that he does not expect participation in RA’s competition to lead to reinclusion in Super Rugby next season.

“I believe participating in this competition is a different story from Super Rugby in the future. Sanzaar is the one to decide the future for Super Rugby,” he said.

RA said the competition would last for 12 weeks from early July, with the last two rounds encompassing the playoffs and final.

RA’s chief medical officer, Dr Warren McDonald, said a staged framework for a return to contact training by May 25 and full team training from June 8 had been submitted to the government for approval.

Reuters