Cockbain hopes Japanese involvement won't be permanently lost to Super Rugby

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Waratahs assistant coach Matt Cockbain hopes a Japanese influence isn't lost to Super Rugby forever after the Sunwolves' demise.

It was confirmed on Monday that the Sunwolves, who joined Super Rugby along with the Jaguares in 2016, would not be part of the upcoming Super Rugby AU competition with quarantine requirements making it logistically to difficult for them.

That news effectively ended the Sunwolves' time as a professional rugby outfit, with the franchise already axed from Super Rugby in 2021.

Cockbain, who has played and coached in Japan, said he hoped there could be a Japanese influence in Super Rugby in years to come.

"It's disappointing isn't it?," he said.

"The Sunwolves had a great home ground support having lived in Tokyo myself and coached up there, I got to go and see a few games up there and it was wonderful to see rugby growing and that in an area where it's not traditional.

"They played a great style, very unpredictable, something a little bit different for the competition and then hopefully the future Japan as a market isn't lost to Super Rugby.

"Hopefully we can find a way to somehow include that in the future model, not sure how realistic that's going to be with the restraints and restrictions around he game at the moment with travel and also financially but it'd be sad to see the Japanese or a Japanese team, particularly the Sunwolves lost forever.

"There's talk around next season I believe the top league up there's going to be running in conjunction with the Super Rugby window so it's going to be interesting to see how that all fits together moving forward in a global calendar for rugby."

Sunwolves forward Ben Hyne, who has now joined the Brumbies on a short-term injury deal, said it was a shame the Sunwolves weren't able to be cleared to play in Super Rugby AU.

"I signed prepared to live in Japan for six months, I think I was only there for two," he said.

"Personally I'd love to still be running around for the Sunwolves in the Super Rugby format and I certainly would've loved to have pulled on the Sunwolves jersey again in the Australian conference, it just so happens that it wasn't able to be processed.

"There was lots of conversations going on behind the scenes with the Sunwolves management team and SANZAAR and (Rugby Australia)and everything and it was just all a bit of a mess and it was just going to be too hard, too expensive to keep us in it.

"I enjoyed my time in that jersey, it was cut short but when another opportunity presents yourself like to be back playing for the Brumbies or be back playing in a program and that you're going to take it aren't you?"

Cockbain is back in Sydney after spending time in Melbourne as the team trained remotely and welcomed the return of contact and set piece training this week.