Japan don’t want Super 15 involvement

Japan coach John Kirwan says that the Land of the Rising Sun has nothing to gain from being part of Super Rugby‘s expansion plans.

Ruling out a bid for the to-be-decided Super 15 licence and any later interest, Kirwan said there was no future for Japan competing against Australia, New Zealand and South Africa’s provincial sides.

Australian Rugby Union supremo John O’Neill had mentioned the potential of expanding Super Rugby into the Japanese market as it would bring huge sponsorship monies if Super Rugby could be expanded again to a Super 16 or Super 18 by 2015.

Australia’s players union has also argued that Japan would be well placed for a 2011 Super 15 entry.

The All Black world cup winner Kirwan who is now in his third year as Japan’s national coach says that a Japanese Super 15 franchise would undermine the domestic competition which is driven by multinational corporations.

Japan’s teams can afford to sign some of the best players in the world – such as Australian stars Toutai Kefu, George Gregan and Stephen Larkham – because they can draw on huge sums of corporate money.

Teams that play in Japan’s domestic competition have names such as Toyota, Yamaha, NEC, Kobe Steel, Mitsubishi, Toshiba and Coca-Cola.

“We don’t want to (play in Super Rugby) because we have 20 of the biggest sponsors in the world which spends between $US5-6 million on rugby teams,” Kirwan told AAP.

“So I can’t see the point in having one franchise in Tokyo, all we’re going to do is annoy Toyota which has a $US1 billion marketing budget.”

“We don’t see it has any future.”

“We believe in a strong home competition.

“We need to keep it strong so we have 200 or 300 Japanese playing at a high level.

“We’re doing that through getting Georgie Gregan and Steve Larkham up there this year.”

“Our competition is getting better year in, year out. I think Super Rugby, in its current format, would break that down.”

Kirwan said that he would rather see a Heineken Cup-style southern hemisphere competition which would include Japanese, North American, Argentinian and Pacific Islands teams as well as the best from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

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