Rugby: Robbie Deans backs Sunwolves for Rapid Rugby competition

Former Crusaders Super Rugby coach Robbie Deans believes besieged Japanese club the Sunwolves should resurrect itself in the rebranded Global Rapid Rugby competition.   

SANZAAR confirmed on Friday that the Tokyo-based club will be culled from Super Rugby after the 2020 season.   

Even though they have languished in the standings since entering the competition in 2016, the Sunwolves have built a passionate supporter base.   

Global Rapid Rugby is continuing a push into Asia with the inclusion of teams from Singapore and Malaysia for the second season, which started on Friday night with the Western Force's 26-16 victory over the World XV at HBF Park.   

Formerly named World Series Rugby, the competition is expected to expand to at least eight teams in its first full season next year.   

Deans, the World XV coach, said it was an obvious move for the Sunwolves to join Global Rapid Rugby in 2021.

"They have to. Japan needs something between the top league and international level...hopefully, they will move," he said.

Set to gain momentum from hosting this year's World Cup, Deans believed Japan was an important market for the sport.

"The game is very popular there, and it's growing," he said.   

"The game has taken off, but obviously post-World Cup key decisions will have to be made."   

With the Sunwolves locked into playing Super Rugby next year due to the current broadcast deal, Deans said the club would have challenges ahead fielding a team.   

"You have livelihoods at stake. It's tough to get players to commit to an outfit knowing they are dead in the water," he said.   

Global Rapid Rugby is the brainchild of billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest after the Western Force were axed from Super Rugby in 2017.   

Force coach Tim Sampson said the Sunwolves could find inspiration from the Perth-based club.   

"They have a great following over there," he said. "You would like to think they will still be well supported wherever they end up.

"You can see it here with the Western Force...we had almost 12,000 tonight which is fantastic.   

"Having a quality team like that enter the competition would be fantastic."   

AAP