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Japan awarded 18th slot in Super Rugby but Singapore still ambitious

Super Rugby organisers SANZAR have confirmed that Japan has beaten Singapore to become the preferred bidder for the 18th Super Rugby franchise.

Following a meeting of the Executive Committee, SANZAR has informed the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) that it is the preferred candidate for Super Rugby’s 18th team when the competition expands in 2016. SANZAR Chief Executive Greg Peters (pictured) said:

This week’s meeting was a significant step in the evolution of Super Rugby.

Compelling proposals were put forth by Japan and Singapore in what was a very competitive tender process and we thank both parties for their passion in sharing our vision to expand the competition to new fans, territories and commercial markets.

While ultimately edged out in this instance, Singapore presented a highly attractive bid and we will maintain a positive relationship with an eye to potentially working with them in the future.

Following the Executive Committee’s decision however, SANZAR will now work exclusively with the JRFU to finalise arrangements for their entry in to Super Rugby, subject to execution of the formal participation agreement.

Until this process is concluded, there will be no further comment from either party.

The Singapore franchise was to field a team known as the Asia Pacific Dragons and was to be backed by Eric Series, who released a statement through Carinat Sports Marketing:

The news that the Japan team will play matches in Singapore is also welcomed, as knowing that they will need to invest in rugby in Singapore and South-East Asia in order to achieve that, is a consequence we warmly endorse, as this was a key and more component of our Proposal.

We would like to thank SANZAR for giving us the opportunity to present the Asia Pacific Dragons proposal, but understand that perhaps the competition is not ready for a fully privately-owned club.

However, with increased player movement and the economic changes in professional rugby it seems inevitable that this will have to happen and the beneficial changes being seen in the Northern Hemisphere will start to impact SANZAR as well.

The Asia Pacific Dragons is a unique team. Our ambition is to build the biggest fan base in World Rugby. We have already been talking to top competitions around the world who have expressed their interest to host our team. We will also continue to discuss pathway opportunities with the Unions of Samoa and Fiji for their players who we continue to believe have been neglected to date.