La­pas­set backs Ja­pan in­clu­sion in Rugby Cham­pi­onship

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

BEN­GALURU: World Rugby chair­man Bernard La­pas­set has voiced his back­ing for Ja­pan’s in­clu­sion in the South­ern Hemi­sphere Rugby Cham­pi­onship com­pe­ti­tion along­side New Zealand, Aus­tralia, South Africa and Ar­gentina.

The sport is en­joy­ing a surge in pop­u­lar­ity in the coun­try that will host the next World Cup in 2019 and af­ter se­cur­ing a fran­chise in the Su­per Rugby tour­na­ment, La­pas­set be­lieves a sim­i­lar deal at in­ter­na­tional level is a dis­tinct pos­si­bil­ity.Ja­pan beat off a bid from Sin­ga­pore to en­ter next year’s ex­panded 18-side tour­na­ment and will get their first taste of Su­per Rugby ac­tion at the Prince Chichibu Memo­rial Sta­dium in Tokyo on Feb. 27 when they host the Li­ons of Jo­han­nes­burg.

“Ja­pan is part of the to­tal global vi­sion of the rugby that we are pro­mot­ing in the world, es­pe­cially in the South with Ar­gentina, South Africa, New Zealand, Aus­tralia,” La­pas­set told re­porters in Tokyo on Mon­day. “That’s the top five-with Ja­pan. Not just Tier 2 and Tier 1, the top five,” the French­man added.

“We need to achieve the process that all five will be push­ing to­gether to de­velop the south­ern com­pe­ti­tion and to pro­mote the best rugby ever that we can do in the South.

“We did the same in the North with the Six Na­tions. Now it will be the five na­tions in the South.”

The pop­u­lar­ity of rugby in Ja­pan has rock­eted af­ter the Brave Blos­soms stunned two-time world cham­pi­ons South Africa with a last-gasp 34-32 win at the re­cent World Cup in eng­land.

They went on to be­come the first team to bow out of the pool stages with three wins but had bet­ter luck in com­plet­ing a sec­ond-half rally against hosts Hong Kong on Sun­day to book a berth at the 2016 Olympic rugby sev­ens tour­na­ment in Rio.

Tele­vi­sion view­ing fig­ures in Ja­pan soared af­ter the South Africa game and La­pas­set has fixed his sights firmly on in­creas­ing the sport’s pop­u­lar­ity across the rest of Asia.

“The Su­per Rugby is a good for­mat to pro­mote rugby in the South that in­cludes some matches in Sin­ga­pore. That’s im­por­tant to ex­tend the value and the qual­ity of the game in Asia,” he said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.