Japan wait for SANZAR to approve playing squad

Japan’s inclusion in the 2016 Super Rugby tournament is far from being certain
as they struggle to sign players and a replacement coach.

Japan’s national coach Eddie Jones announced that he would be moving on after
the Rugby World Cup leaving the Asian Super Rugby team without a coach or Director
of Rugby.

Reports surfaced last week that Japan were still struggling to sign players
but Japan Rugby Football Union General Secretary Noriyuki Sakamoto said on the
weekend that they now “have enough (players to play a game).”

On Monday it was revealed that Super Rugby organizers SANZAR have demanded
clarification on which players they had signed for next year and who they were
looking at sigining as coach.

The Japanese Rugby Union formed the Japan Super Rugby Association (JSRA) to
run the new Super Rugby team but neither that body nor the national union have
done much publicly to reduce fears that the team will not be ready and be cut
from the tournament.

SANZAR have been looking at alternate formats for next year that do not include
the Japan team and possibly even without the sixth South African team the Southern
Kings who are having financial difficulties paying their Currie Cup players.

The JSRA say that, “The contract was signed with the JRFU so we cannot
comment” on how prepared the team is for next year and what players have
been signed.

Kyodo News reports that they have learned that a list of 29 players and the
name of a potential head coach were sent to SANZAR before a deadline set by
the body on Monday.

A SANZAR spokesman told Kyodo that they would not be making any comments
about “what’s been received from the JRFU until we’ve had a chance to go
through it thoroughly.”

Other sources have told Kyodo that “number of the players on
the list were not among those generally associated with the national team, while
it is believed the first five choices for the head coach role have all turned
down the job.”

Japan beat Singapore in the race for the 18th Super Rugby team licence on the
basis that it would field a 35 man squad that was made up mainly of Japanese
internationals and a handful of “marquee” overseas players.

There are rumours that the majority of the players on the list are university
players which would not meet the standard of player that SANZAR agreed upon.

Most players based in Japan are employed by the company owned Top League teams
who release players for the national side but do not want to release players
for Super Rugby duty and they also want Top League games be given priority to
Super Rugby matches.

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