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Jones backs Japan Super Rugby team

AFP-JIJI

Japan is the only logical choice for Super Rugby when the southern hemisphere’s elite provincial tournament expands into Asia in 2016, the country’s head coach Eddie Jones said Friday.

Organisers SANZAR confirmed earlier this week that Japan and Singapore had tendered bids, but Jones insisted Super Rugby would lose credibility if they were to ignore Japan’s application.

“In terms of growing the game you’d think they would choose Japan,” said the former Australia coach. “Singapore has no rugby history at all. They would just be coming and plonking a team of Pacific islanders there.

“It can’t be the right choice,” he added. “That’s just crazy.”

Jones has guided Japan’s “Brave Blossoms” to a record 10 successive wins, culminating in a 26-23 victory over Italy in Tokyo last month which saw the Asian champions break into the world’s top 10 for the first time.

“Japan’s 10th in the world, has the world’s fourth-biggest rugby playing population, the world’s third-biggest economy,” said Jones. “Japan hosts the World Cup in 2019.

“But professional rugby is all about money so there could be other economic factors.”

SANZAR will make a decision in September or October.

Super Rugby will expand from 15 teams to 18 in 2016, with the return of the Kings from South Africa’s Eastern Cape and a team based in Argentina already previously confirmed.