Japan to get Super 14 team ?

Japan is being touted as the next venue to host a Bledisloe Cup in 2009 and according to Reuters the ARU is talking to Rugby bosses in Japan about them hosting a Super 14 team.

At this stage though they are primarily in initial talks with Japanese officials about bringing the Wallabies and New Zealand All Blacks to Asia’s top rugby nation.

The ARU have said initial talks with had gone smoothly.

“We had our first preliminary discussions today. They were very positive,” ARU chief executive John O’Neill told Reuters in Tokyo on Wednesday.

“We are taking the jewel in the crown into an incredibly valuable market. It would not be an exhibition match. It would be a full-blooded test with the cup on the line.”

Australian and New Zealand officials have announced plans already to stage a Bledisloe Cup clash on Nov. 1 this year in Hong Kong and the next venue could be Tokyo.

The match this year will be a momentous occasion as it will be the first time the two great southern hemisphere rivals have met in a rugby test outside New Zealand or Australia, except at a Rugby World Cup.

“We are looking to play a Bledisloe Cup game in Tokyo about Oct. 31 next year or early November,” he said.

“But it’s not just lipservice. We are very serious about growing rugby in Asia.

“Of course the reasons are not entirely altruistic. We have had a very successful 12 years of the professional era but it’s obvious we have to grow in a larger consumer area.”

Plans to increase the number of sides in the Super 14 competition, and to include a Japan-based team, are also on the agenda.

“The Super 14 has been expanded (from 12) and could be expanded again in the next few years,” said O’Neill.

“We could well base a team in Tokyo, possibly as a joint venture because it would be very important to be competitive.

“It would perhaps be half Japanese, with Japan’s best players, and the other half foreign, predominately Australian.”

O’Neill added that the International Rugby Board was backing the idea of taking the Bledisloe Cup games on the road.

“There have been some critics, more in New Zealand, about selling the farm,” he said.

“But it has been well received. The IRB has been very supportive.

“They are desperate to grow rugby in these markets.”

O’Neill was visiting Japan to back the country’s bid to stage the 2015 World Cup. Australia also backed Japan in their bid to host the 2011 Rugby World cup.




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