• Kyodo

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The Japan Rugby Football Union reported on Wednesday that it is ready to begin individual negotiations with its top candidates to replace Eddie Jones as head coach of the national team.

“You can count them on one hand,” executive director Noriyuki Sakamoto said on a day when the JRFU’s board of directors met.

Although it is said that the shortlist includes Japanese candidates, a group of foreign candidates has moved to the top of the list. The target date for a decision is the next board of directors meeting on Dec. 17.

“Basically, we have to look four years down the road,” Sakamoto said. “As the next host (of the Rugby World Cup) we have to be careful.”

At first the JRFU had included Panasonic Wild Knights and former Australia head coach Robbie Deans, and Katsuyuki Kiyomiya, the manager of Yamaha Jubilo, among its list of 60 candidates.

Deans told Kyodo News on Nov. 2, “It’s a great opportunity for someone. It won’t be me.”

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