Super Rugby 2019: Sunwolves reportedly facing SANZAAR extinction

Japan's Sunwolves are reportedly on the Super Rugby chopping block.

According to The Australian, SANZAAR is on the verge of axing the competition's only Asian-based franchise, with Japanese sources expecting the news later this week.

A Sunwolves spokesperson told The Australian that the club had been asked to pay a participation fee - the only outfit to face that stipulation - and refused.

SANZAAR have issued a statement to announce that an official announcement "on the future of the Super Rugby tournament" will be made on Friday at 4pm (NZ time).

The Japanese side entered the southern hemisphere competition in 2016, along with the Argentinian Jaguares, when rugby powers identified the Asian market as vital to the game's expansion. Since then, they have won just seven games, losing 43.

They won their first away game this month, when they toppled the Chiefs 30-15 in Hamilton.

South Africa is believed to have pushed hard for the Sunwolves to be dropped - its teams are reportedly opposed to visiting Asia to play them and fans don't attend their road games.

The Australian reports that Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle is currently briefing local franchises on the decision and the ramifications, which may leave them struggling financially, with a reduced number of home games to generate income.

Japan will host the Rugby World Cup later this year and - along with Fiji - would join the Rugby Championship under World Rugby's proposed global competition.