While Japan is still coming to terms with its departure from the Rugby World Cup, there appears there could be good news on the horizon.
The dawn of a new day came with a silver lining for Japanese rugby fans, with shock developments on a possible return to Super Rugby for the Sunwolves.
Newshub understands the topic will be on the agenda at a SANZAAR meeting in Tokyo on Friday, where they’ll also discuss how to get Japan into the Rugby Championship.
Head of World Rugby Brett Gosper has encouraged them to move fast to capitalise on the momentum created by the hosts’ stunning performance at the World Cup.
"Certainly if I was in their shoes I’d be very keen to have Japan in my competition sooner rather than later," Gosper told Newshub.
Gosper also suggested there could be a tug of war between the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship to add Japan to their respective annual tournament.
Newshub’s learned the key could lie in the Sunwolves' Super Rugby reinstatement.
The team was dropped from the competition earlier this year, with Japanese Rugby’s refusal to underwrite the team’s participation beyond 2020.
But it’s understood the board that made that decision has changed, and with it, attitudes within the union towards Japan’s participation in Super Rugby.
A 15-team round robin competition and Japan's inclusion in the Rugby Championship are expected to be discussed at Friday's meeting.
"That’s entirely their call," 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 exciting brand of rugby displayed on the biggest stage now means the game has a captive audience in a vital market, making Japan one of the most valuable properties in World Rugby.
"The players and the brand of rugby we've been playing all year is inspiring," said coach Jamie Joseph.
SANZAAR’s time to strike is now.
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