Rugby

Launch of Japan's new rugby league may be delayed

Kyodo

The launch of a new domestic rugby competition in Japan, originally scheduled for the fall of next year, may be delayed due to the one-year postponement of the Summer Olympics, a Japan Rugby Football Union executive said Monday.

Speaking to reporters online, Mayumi Taniguchi, a member of a group set up to establish the new league, said it "may be difficult" to launch in late 2021 because the Tokyo Games are slated to take place in that summer.

She indicated the possibility of the opening being pushed back to early 2022.

The league is projected to comprise three divisions including teams from the Japan Rugby Top League and the second-tier Top Challenge League, in addition to a number of other clubs applying to join.

In other announcements from the JRFU, CEO Yuji Watase said Monday that the Japan-based Sunwolves, who will be excluded from Super Rugby starting next year, are aiming compete in a league in Australia consisting of other Super Rugby sides.

According to Watase, the Australian league is expected to open as early as July, but the Sunwolves' participation is still being negotiated as the Australian government must approve the team's entry into the country during competition.

"Even if there aren't competitions domestically (in Japan), if there is a chance we should go," he told reporters.

The Tokyo Games scheduled for this summer were postponed for a year in response to the new coronavirus pandemic.

While the deadline for applying to join the new Japanese league had been April 30, the JRFU has given clubs additional time to coordinate their applications.

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