Views from Tokyo: Are Japan’s Sunwolves ready for Super Rugby?


Oliver Trenchard asks fans for their views on the prospects for the Sunwolves, Asia’s first Super Rugby team. The Japan-based franchise has lost its first two league matches but picked up a point due to its strong showing against the Cheetahs, who pipped them at the post to win 32-31.

Tae Kaneko
Graphic designer, 43 (Japanese)
It’s obviously hard to tell as it’s the first time Japan has competed in Super Rugby, but they haven’t had enough preparation time and they were late deciding the players and coach. As a Japanese, I’m excited and hoping for the Sunwolves to do well, but as a fan, too, I want to support them and watch them grow as a team.

Masaaki Terasaka
Head of consultants, 53 (Japanese)
The timing to join Super Rugby is good because of the rugby boom in Japan. As for their preparation, I don’t think it’s sufficient, meaning some major players have gone to other teams in Super Rugby. I look forward to seeing them win some games even though it’s their first year.

Simon Richards
Retail, 24 (British)
Preparation hasn’t been ideal, but the team has to make the best out of the situation. Lots of people doubt the Sunwolves this season, but are they the same people who doubted Japan at the 2015 Rugby World Cup? I hope they can take on board the same mentality as the Brave Blossoms and further develop Japanese rugby.

Mamiko Takeuchi
Business strategy consultant, 27 (Japanese)
I admired the way Japan played at the World Cup and I think it helped them to win lots of supporters here. I don’t expect the Sunwolves to play as well as Japan did, so maybe people need to lower their expectations. I fear people will lose interest in rugby if the Sunwolves don’t win games.

Katsuhiko Tozawa
Corporate strategy officer, 40 (Japanese)
The team really haven’t been able to prepare well. I think that in order to take on the highest level of attacking rugby in the world, not only the players as individuals but coordination between the Sunwolves players is essential.

Ko Ijima
Accountant, 28 (Japanese)
The Sunwolves taking part in Super Rugby itself is extremely significant for Japanese rugby. However, you can’t deny that the team has been put together extremely quickly. I think they are enormously underprepared for the Super Rugby season.

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