Singapore in the lead to be 18th SuperRugby team

Singapore has emerged as the favourite to be named as the 18th Super Rugby franchise when SANZAR expand their Super Rugby tournament in 2016.

Super Rugby’s organisers SANZAR have announced that they will expand the current number of teams from 15 to 18 teams by including as sixth South African team, a team from Argentina and one from Asia.

The Asian team will be from either Singapore or Japan which will make whoever wins the first Super Rugby team from the Northern Hemisphere.

Japan will host the 2019 Rugby World Cup and have a long history of playing rugby but their history will not gaurantee their inclusion in Super Rugby in 18 months time.

It was initially thought that South Africa favoured the bid from Singapore due to it being a lot closer and easier for teams to travel to.

It is now understood that both South Africa and New Zealand are behind the Singapore bid with Australia being either undecided or leaning towards the Japanese bid.

Singapore have recently built a new 55,000-seat stadium which could be used to host Super Rugby matches and the bid has strong financial backing.

There are concerns about the level of support that a Japanese team would get from the country’s rugby clubs which are owned by corporations.

SANZAR have just completed an inspection of both bids and their facilities and Australia Rugby Union official Andrew Fagan says that SANZAR could not go wrong with either Singapore or Japan.

Fagan says that the ARU have yet to decide who they will be backing for the 18th Super Rugby franchise.

“The ARU hasn’t made a decision on which bid they are supporting,” Fagan told the Australian.

“Both Singapore and Japan were asked to submit full tenders. We received those tenders a couple of weeks ago.

“This visit was to interrogate those tenders more thoroughly. My job with my SANZAR colleagues is to report back to the SANZAR board and report back to the ARU board.”

Fagan said that the two bids had similarities and differences but that both were compelling.

“It was an important fact-finding mission,” Fagan said.

“The purpose was to interrogate those bids and assess their rugby readiness, their commercial viability and what they might add to SANZAR as a whole.

“They both can be ready for 2016. Both with a bit of work to do, but that was the purpose of the visit to assess how far they can progress in the next 18 months or so in order to be ready for the 2016 season.

“And to work through as number of logistic issues as well, travel and how they would work their way into the conferences etc. Inspect the facilities, hotels, training facilities, venues and all that.”

SANZAR recently asked fans for feedback on who they would prefer to see the new team being awarded to and most fans on their Facebook page rejected both bids saying that the tournament should either go back to a Super 12/14 format or for the current 15 teams to retained with no expansion.

While the strong majority of fans do not want Super Rugby to be expanded Fagan said that both bids would “add tremendous value to SANZAR”.

“The bids are quite different from one another, but both are interesting and both would add tremendous value to SANZAR,” Fagan said.

“Both have their strengths. Some of those strengths are common to both of them and some of them have their points of difference when compared to the other, but I don’t think we can make a bad decision.

“Both present quite compelling arguments. It’s about making the right decision for the Super Rugby competition.”

SANZAR are expected to announced the decision on who will be the 18th team in 2016 next month so that the team will be able to start preparing for their inclusion as soon as possible.

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