Rugby World Cup 2019: Japan, Fiji considered for southern hemisphere Six Nations

Japan and Fiji are being considered as potential partners to join New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina in the Rugby Championship, according to reports from the UK. 

The Times is reporting that last weekend's meeting between the SANZAAR unions in Tokyo were successful and they've agreed in principle to expand the southern hemisphere tournament to include Japan.

There has also been talks to include a Pacific Island nation, with Fiji emerging as the most likely contender. 

The report adds SANZAAR will take the process further forward on Friday when they sit down to discuss expansion directly with Japan. 

World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot has also been working with SANZAAR to get Japan included.   

In June, World Rugby abandoned plans for a Nations Championship, which would have given Fiji, Japan and other national teams the chance to take on more top sides.

Rugby World Cup 2019: Japan, Fiji considered for southern hemisphere Six Nations
Rugby World Cup 2019: Japan, Fiji considered for southern hemisphere Six Nations

Last week, head of World Rugby Brett Gosper told Newshub that SANZAAR needed to act swiftly to including Japan in the tournament.

"Certainly if I was in their shoes I'd be very keen to have Japan in my competition sooner rather than later," said Gosper. 

"We proposed a nations championship that had Japan very much playing at the top table and maybe they'll see it that way for their own particular championship."

Japan's rise in rugby has been one of the feel-good sports stories this year after they won all their pool games to become the first Asian country to reach the quarter-finals at a Rugby World Cup. 

Fiji are ranked 11th and are the best-rated Pacific Island nation.

In an interview with the BBC, Fijian hooker Sam Matavesi said teams like Fiji and Japan are wanting more games against the bigger test nations. 

"If you need to beat a Wales, an Australia, an England or a South Africa, then you have to play these teams yearly, that's the only way you're going to get better," he explained. 

"Everyone I spoke to enjoyed the games against Australia and Wales, they said they were the best games at the World Cup, but if people want that more it has to change."

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The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.

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