Thứ Ba, 8 tháng 7, 2014

Super Rugby Singapore bid "a joke"

LIKES JAPAN: Eddie Jones believes Japan is the obvious choice for a Super Rugby expansion given it has 100,000 players and 3500 clubs.

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Japan coach Eddie Jones has rubbished Singapore’s claims to be the new team in Super Rugby’s expansion plans.

Japan and Singapore appear to be in a two-team race to be the final franchise in Sanzar’s Super 18 competition to be introduced in 2016, joining another South African team and an Argentinian side as the three newcomers.

Singapore’s claims were boosted yesterday when it was announced that the Maori All Blacks would play the Asia-Pacific Dragons, coached by All Blacks great Tana Umaga, in Singapore in November.

Jones, the outspoken former Wallabies coach now in charge of the Japan rugby team, is pushing the Japan Rugby Football Union’s cause, saying Singapore’s claims are “a joke” and that Sanzar will “lose all credibility” if they go down that route.

The 18th team will play in the South African conference and the powerful South Africans were believed to favour Singapore’s more favourable travel accessibility with direct flights from the republic.

“It is a joke that Singapore is even being considered as the base for the 18th Super Rugby team when Japan ticks all the right boxes for forward thinking,” Jones wrote in his column for Newscorp.

“Ruling body Sanzar will lose all credibility if Singapore is selected to serve South African interests with a less demanding travel load.

“If travel is the deciding factor, then Dubai should be selected and rugby ethos and history ignored altogether.

“Enough of that nonsense. Rugby has had a footprint in Japan since 1899 at Keio University in Tokyo and there are more than 100,000 players and 3500 clubs in the country.”

Jones said “any smart organisation should see the value of promoting Japan”, which had become the first Asian team to reach 10th in the world rankings, was a World Cup regular and would host the 2019 World Cup.

He said South Africa was using its TV rights clout to push the bid by Singapore, “where rugby is linked to the gin-and-tonic set at the Singapore Cricket Club and no players”.

“They would play in a grand new stadium but every player in a Singapore-based team would be an import,” he said.

Umaga’s team this year will be an invitational side drawn from top Asian and Polynesian players that could be a blueprint for the future.

Singapore would represent a convenient way to use Asian riches to bankroll Pacific Island talent, which has long been overlooked by Sanzar because the island nations bring no financial benefits to the negotiation table.

Umaga’s long-term presence would be crucial, given his mana.

He has consistently resisted Super Rugby coaching involvement to further his skills at NPC level, where he recently signed a new deal with Counties Manukau through to 2016.

A decision on the 18th Super Rugby team could be made as early as September.

– Stuff

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Super Rugby Singapore bid "a joke"

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