World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset has voiced his backing for Japan’s inclusion in the Southern Hemisphere Rugby Championship competition alongside New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina.
The sport is enjoying a surge in popularity in the country that will host the next World Cup in 2019 and after securing a franchise in the Super Rugby tournament, Lapasset believes a similar deal at international level is a distinct possibility.
Japan beat off a bid from Singapore to enter next year’s expanded 18-side tournament and will get their first taste of Super Rugby action at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo on February 27 when they host the Lions of Johannesburg.
“Japan is part of the total global vision of the rugby that we are promoting in the world, especially in the South with Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia,” Lapasset told reporters in Tokyo on Monday.
“That’s the top five – with Japan. Not just Tier 2 and Tier 1, the top five,” the Frenchman added.
“We need to achieve the process that all five will be pushing together to develop the southern competition and to promote the best rugby ever that we can do in the South.
“We did the same in the North with the Six Nations. Now it will be the five nations in the South.”
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