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Singapore team in Super Rugby 'a joke'
ESPN Staff
July 5, 2014
Singapore recently staged the inaugural World Club 10s in the National Stadium at the Singapore Sports Hub © Getty Images

SANZAR will "lose all credibility" if officials expand Super Rugby into Singapore ahead of Japan, according to Japan's coach Eddie Jones.

The new competition

  • Expanded competition to 18 teams from 2016 - South Africa 6th, Argentina, plus new team
  • Shorter competition - from 21 weeks to 20 weeks
  • All teams play one less match in a regular season - from 16 matches to 15
  • Four conferences playing in two regional Groups - South Africa and Australasia
  • The Australasia Group made up of two conferences - Australia (five teams) and New Zealand (five teams)
  • South African Group made up of two conferences - South Africa 1 (three teams plus one from Argentina), and South Africa 2 (three teams plus the 18th team)
  • Each team plays 15 regular season matches - eight home/seven away or vice versa every second year
  • A total 135 regular season matches and seven Finals Series matches (compared to 120 and five)

Jones, a former Brumbies and Australia coach, wrote in his weekly column for News Corp that it was "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".

New Zealand Rugby chairman Brent Impey confirmed this week that Singapore and Japan were the leading candidates to host the 18th Super Rugby franchise when the competition expands in 2016, after New Zealand sources had told ESPNScrum in May "within SANZAR the push for a Super Rugby team in Singapore is intensifying".

"There are a couple of options which have already come out of Asia," Impey said this week. "That gives us confidence that we'll be able to see the 18th team not only meet the financial and commercial qualifications but the playing strength as well."

South African officials are widely understood to prefer Singapore to Japan as a base for the 18th team, due to the reduced travel time to and from the Republic as the expansion franchise will play in the proposed South African group along with a new team from Argentina.

"If travel is the deciding factor then Dubai should be selected and rugby ethos and history ignored altogether," Jones wrote for News Corp. "Enough of that nonsense. Rugby has had a footprint in Japan since 1899 … and there are more than 100,000 players and 3500 clubs in the country. Japan has become the first Asian nation to reach 10th in the world and the Rugby World Cup is heading here in 2019."

Jones, a forthright thinker of all facets of rugby, said that "any smart organisation should see the value of promoting Japan as an expansion team in Super 18". He noted that a Singapore-based team would play in a spectacular new stadium but said that every player "would be an import" because "Japan recently beat Sri Lanka 132-10 and Singapore are ranked 10 spots lower than [Sri Lanka] at No.58 in the world".

The proposed new Super Rugby structure will have 135 regular-season games, compared with 120, and each side will play 15 games compared with the current tally of 16. The play-off structure will see eight teams through to the quarter-finals with five teams qualifying from the Australasian group and three from the South Africa pool.

The new format for Super Rugby © SANZAR

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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