Sunwolves interested in Australian competition, Force awaiting "formal invitation"

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Sunwolves CEO Yuji Watase says the club is interested in being a part of a modified Australian Super Rugby competition later this year.

“Yes, we’ve been discussing with Rugby Australia about restarting the competition and they’ve been helping us to proceed with our involvement,” Watase told Reuters on Tuesday.

“This is to be the last season, and we definitely would like to leave a legacy."

Though the Japanese team is interested in continuing its involvement in 2020, Watase said it did not come with the expectation that they would be reinstated into Super Rugby in 2021.

The Sunwolves were cut from Super Rugby in 2021 and beyond after the JRFU withdrew its financial support of the team, expecting the SANZAAR partners to subsidise the team's inclusion.

“I believe participating in this competition is a different story from Super Rugby in the future. SANZAAR is the one to decide the future for Super Rugby,” Watase said.

Meanwhile, the Western Force says it is yet to receive a "formal invitation" to participate in the new Australian rugby competition while Rugby Australia awaits the green light from the Queensland government for teams to return to competition.

The Force have been mentioned publicly as being part of the planned five or six-team competition that is targeting a July kick-off, depending on government decisions.

The WA team were also set to be involved in the planned five-team competition announced earlier this year before restrictions extended.

Global Rapid Rugby CEO Mark Evans released a statement on Tuesday saying the organisation had not received an official invitation to be part of the competition.

“GRR has not to date received a formal invitation for participation of the Western Force in any proposed 2020 Australian domestic competition," he said.

"There may be some interest on our part, but to suggest that the Western Force has agreed to participate is inaccurate."

"Until any invitation, with full details of the competition arrangements, is forthcoming and has been agreed to by GRR, we will continue to review a range of  playing options for the remainder of 2020 and beyond.”

The Force have been represented in all the planning meetings during the shutdown as Rugby Australia prepared its documents for government submission, Rugby Australia's head of professional rugby Anthony French said on Monday.

This year's Global Rapid Rugby competition has already been cancelled because of the pandemic so there is no danger of the competitions clashing.

Plans for Australia's competition have included five or six teams, depending on the Sunwolves' involvement, and Force players and coaches have publicly expressed their interest in being involved.