Should Japan join the Rugby Championship?



  • 'Japan should be in the Rugby Championship' - Pichot

    World Rugby’s Vice Chairman Augustin Pichot believes Japan should be invited to join the Rugby Championship. 
    
    The former Pumas scrumhalf made the claim in an interview with the Telegraph’s Daniel Schofield, saying that such a move would be beneficial for the development of Japan. 
    
    Pichot also believes that Georgia should be added to the Six Nations. 
    
    “I would love to see the Six Nations open up to Georgia. I would also challenge SANZAAR anzaar to open up to Japan and the Americas Championship to countries to like Mexico,” said Pichot, who believes that the game’s growth has to be balanced against a desire to generate profit. 
    
    Japan’s heroics at the last Rugby World Cup in England and the Sunwolves hammering of the Blues on the weekend would suggest that the Braves Blossoms – whose country boasts a population of 130 million – could bring plenty to the table, both on the pitch and in terms of revenue. 
    
    Pichot outlined how championing Tier 2 Nations development was at the core of his position in the World Rugby structure. 
    
    “What are we here for? I am not naive. I understand we have to make sure the business grows but we cannot lose what rugby stands for.”
    
    Pichot has not been shy of expressing his opinions on World Rugby issues publically in the past. Last year he openly called for a change to the Residency Rules, stating: “Somebody will kill me but we need to change it,” Pichot said. “I think it is wrong.”
    
    President of Rugby Americas, former captain of Argentina’s 15s and sevens teams and bronze final winner at Rugby World Cup 2007, Pichot has been a driving force behind Argentina’s development on and off the field, including The Rugby Championship inclusion and the introduction of an Argentinian team in Super Rugby.
    

    IMO this is a really awful idea that could ruin the RC in the same way as the extension of SR to 18 teams in 2016. I also don't understand why they keep referring to Japan's "heroics" at the 2015 RWC. It's like they won the bloody thing and nothing has happened since then. These are Japan's results since 2015:

    • win over Korea: 85 - 0 (30 April 2016; Asia Rugby Championship TOP 3 - without their Sunwolves players?)
    • win over Hong Kong: 38 - 3 (7 May 2016; Asia Rugby Championship TOP 3 - without their Sunwolves players?)
    • win over Korea: 60 - 3 (21 May 2016; Asia Rugby Championship TOP 3 - without their Sunwolves players?)
    • win over Hong Kong: 59 - 17 (28 May 2016; Asia Rugby Championship TOP 3 - without their Sunwolves players?)
    • win over Canada: 26 - 22 (11 June 2016)
    • loss to Scotland: 13 - 26 (18 June 2016)
    • loss to Argentina: 20 - 54 (5 Nov 2016)
    • win over Georgia: 28 - 22 (12 Nov 2016)
    • loss to Wales: 30 - 33 (19 Nov 2016)
    • loss to Fiji: 25 - 38 (26 Nov 2016)
    • win over Korea: 47 - 29 (22 April 2017; Asia Rugby Championship TOP 3 - without their Sunwolves players?)
    • win over Korea: 80 - 10 (29 April 2017; Asia Rugby Championship TOP 3 - without their Sunwolves players?)
    • win over Hong Kong: 16 - 0 (13 May 2017; Asia Rugby Championship TOP 3 - without their Sunwolves players?)
    • win over Romania: 33 - 21 (10 June 2017)
    • loss to Ireland: 22 - 50 (17 June 2017)
    • loss to Ireland: 13 - 35 (24 June 2017)

    Looking at these results and the teams they played, nothing suggests they are good enough to join the RC. World Rugby used last year's and this year's Pacific Nations Cup as RWC qualifiers, but had to split the usual PNC and drop the USA, Canada and Japan because they had separate qualification pathways (Japan automatically qualified, USA and Canada playing each other). Now that the qualification rounds have finished, they should restore the PNC to what it was and make it a good, lasting competition between Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, USA, Canada and Japan again. That's Japan's level, not the Rugby Championship.

    This is Japan's record in the PNC: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Rugby_Pacific_Nations_Cup



  • @Stargazer they'd probably beat Aussie 🎣



  • I would be for it we drop the games against SA and Oz to only one game a year, alternate home and away like the six nations.

    Keep the June window for a three match test series, and do the same in the EOYT maybe.



  • Surely there has to be some sort of methodology for ensuring SA win the championship?

    In terms of expanding to include Japan. Torn. They will only get better by playing higher caliber opposition but Italy's been in the 6N for two decades without showing much.

    RC is also a far different beast to the 6N. It hasn't the history and is already spread across 14 time zones. Adding more travel can't be a good thing. Also because of the travel and associated cost you really don't get much travelling support whereas the expansion of Italy also made sense form a financial perspective. Who doesn't want a weekend in Rome in Feb?

    Contrast that with potentially going from near zero temps in Dunedin to pushing 30 in Tokyo.

    I think theres a far stronger case for admitting Georgia to an expanded 7N



  • @dogmeat I agree. I also think there is a better case for including Samoa, Fiji and/or Tonga in the RC than Japan, if "growing the game" is indeed the real reason for expansion - and not the 💵 💰 . Or even countries like Namibia or Uruguay if we really have to.



  • @Stargazer I expect growing the game and growing the 💵 go hand in hand.

    I only see it working IF they do as suggested by Kirwan above.



  • @taniwharugby Maybe. I just don't like including NH countries in the RC - one reason being additional travel - and I'd prefer growing the game in our own backyard. It's basically the same discussion as a having a PI Super Rugby team.



  • Fuck no! If they do that i will seriously consider not watching anymore. Im so sick of the endless expansion. It is killing the game.

    How about creating a competition with japan, fiji, samoa, tonga, georgia, usa and canada. WR can fund it and organise teavel with whatever fucked up logic they like. If one of those trams dominates that comp and regularly beats teams in the 6N or TRC then they can be considered for inclusion.



  • @Stargazer problem is, the PI don't grow the game the way the IRB want....

    I guess the other issue is, we have a comp that is not ideal geographically, unlike the 6N, with shit loads of travel, and that will never change.

    I'd like Japan to improve considerably before they seriously look at them as an option.



  • @dogmeat said in Should Japan join the Rugby Championship?:

    In terms of expanding to include Japan. Torn. They will only get better by playing higher caliber opposition but Italy's been in the 6N for two decades without showing much.

    Japan has already beaten South Africa more times than they've lost...

    Sooner or later they should join. The financial benefits for New Zealand would be enormous. What's the alternative? Keep propping up Australian rugby?



  • Samoa and Tonga have a combined population less than that of Chch, and how many locals have TVs much less can afford pay TV subscriptions? Refer to the Blues-Reds ticket debacle for proof that the PI nations have their own unique problems that are much broader than rugby.

    Japan obviously has the population base and prosperity but they need to make a statement at their own RWC in 2019 for inclusion in the RC.



  • It will happen. Eventually. But that will probably be in an era when helmets are mandatory.



  • No.



  • @taniwharugby said in Should Japan join the Rugby Championship?:

    @Stargazer problem is, the PI don't grow the game the way the IRB want....

    Yep, this is sad. Given the amount of players of PI descent playing for various nations.



  • Let's see if they keep consistently improving like they've done over the last 4-8 years and then they might be ready to join TRC after the 2023 RWC. I expect that 6 years playing in Super Rugby will help their rugby enormously.

    Japan joining before they are ready would serve no good purpose in my opinion.



  • I think there is an argument to create second tiers for the 6N or an eventually expanded TRC and move toward promotion and relegation.

    This would solve a lot of things like the Georgia (and lesser extend Romania) problem in Europe.

    Assuming the TRC adopted Canada and USA this creates two interesting tournaments. One up, one down and you solve the problem of the PI - how can you just admit one and not all three.

    Tier 1: NZ, Aus, SA, Argentina, Fiji, Japan.
    Tier 2: Samoa, Tonga, USA, Canada, Uruguay, Namibia
    Tier 3 & below: Regional tournaments i.e South America, Asia, Africa.

    Europe would be less exciting - Georgia, Romania, Russia, Germany, Portugal, Spain.



  • @rotated

    Europe already has all these different tiers below the 6 Nations, with promotion/relegation between the different tiers (except 6 Nations). It has just had a complete overhaul, and this is the new format from 2017:

    • 6 Nations: Eng, Ire, Fra, Sco, Wal, Ita
    • Rugby Europe Championship (formerly ENC 1A): Romania (2017 winner, on points differential), Georgia, Spain, Russia, Germany, Belgium (finished last, played and won the promotion/relegation play-off against Portugal so remains in this division)
    • Rugby Europe Trophy (formerly ENC 1B): Portugal (finished 1st, played and lost promotion/relegation play-off against Belgium), Netherlands, Switzerland, Poland, Moldova, Ukraine (relegated)
    • Rugby Europe Conference 1 (formerly ENC 2A and 2B), consisting of a North and a South sub-conference; both sub-conference winners play for one promotion spot to the Rugby Europe Trophy (2017 winner: Czech Republic), both sub-conference bottom teams are relegated to Conference 2 (2017: Luxembourg & Cyprus)
    • Rugby Europe Conference 2 (formerly ENC 2C and 2D), consisting of a North and a South sub-conference; both sub-conference winners are promoted to Conference 1 (2017: Denmark & Bosnia and Herzegovina); the team with the worst record in an aggregated Conference 2 table will be relegated to the Development division for the following season (2017: Turkey, which didn't compete due to financial problems)
    • Rugby Europe Development (formerly ENC 3): Slovakia, Montenegro, Bulgaria (I assume the top team will be promoted to Conference 2, but couldn't find that info)

    The biggest, remaining discussion point remains promotion/relegation between the top tier 6 Nations and the Rugby Europe Championship, or expanding the 6 Nations.



  • The Pacific islands do not grow the game. There simply is stuff all population there, and rugby already exists, and is followed by the population there, and their expats. There's nothing to grow. Love to see them more involved, but it's not growing anything. It would be nice to see them have more relaxed eligibility rules due to their unique circumstances.

    Whereas Japan has 130 million people.



  • @Stargazer said in Should Japan join the Rugby Championship?:

    @rotated

    Europe already has all these different tiers below the 6 Nations, with promotion/relegation between the different tiers (except 6 Nations). It has just had a complete overhaul

    The biggest, remaining discussion point remains promotion/relegation between the top tier 6 Nations and the Rugby Europe Championship, or expanding the 6 Nations.

    That is the key element really. Unless you offer nations a path to the top tier you are dooming them to minnowship.

    Great to see that the infrastructure is there already though, just need to bridge that final gap, not that the Home Nations would be willing to jeopardize themselves to "grow the game".

    Outside of Europe, where there are obvious travel and timezone benefits, it's going to be much harder to stitch together a second division although there have been attempts in the past and currently - Pacific Nations Cup, World Rugby Nations Cup, American Rugby Championship, Africa Cup etc.



  • Japan is going to be weakened by the change in eligibility laws for sure and they still don't have the playing stocks particularly in the 2nd row and loose forwards. I don't think it's a great idea. Georgia maybe has more of a case to have a promotion/relegation to join the 6 nations.



  • @reprobate said in Should Japan join the Rugby Championship?:

    Whereas Japan has 130 million people.

    And the single biggest in-country tv audience for a rugby game, ever (the game AFTER the Boks game, 2015).



  • In answer to the op. Fuck no.
    That is all



  • I don't think so, either, yet.

    But, if SA leave us, Japan is a good market to develop, despite them being pretty shit. From that point of view, I think long term they will join.

    The pacific nations cup or whatever it was, is a good competition that we should go back to IMO. I'd like to see the JABs in an international completion, and I think a Pacific championship would be a great comp to put some energy back into. Over time, there could be a promotion relegation into the 4N which would keep Argentina NZ Australia on their toes 🙂



  • Look, if the Sunwolves can't beat NZ Super Rugby sides, then what hope Japan in the RC?

    Oh, wait... 🙂



  • @nzzp said in Should Japan join the Rugby Championship?:

    @reprobate said in Should Japan join the Rugby Championship?:

    Whereas Japan has 130 million people.

    And the single biggest in-country tv audience for a rugby game, ever (the game AFTER the Boks game, 2015).

    A lot of bandwagon jumpers there I'm afraid post that win and why not. I would expect those numbers to be a one off.



  • Other point I thought I'd make is that Japan's development system is horribly broken. Kids play one sport only so don't get the chance to really dabble at different sports.

    The top high schools are so much better than the others, meaning there are some talented kids who rarely play hard games. Not to mention the university system where kids who could be playing pro rugby aren't.

    Lastly there are prefectures where rugby is barely played.



  • @Salacious-Crumb said in Should Japan join the Rugby Championship?:

    It will happen. Eventually. But that will probably be in an era when helmets are mandatory.

    Indeed. Willy-waving should be an essential part of the players' and fans' experience.



  • Loving the call for Georgia to form a 7 Nations, but not Japan to make a 5 Nations.

    Georgia are playing Wales and Japan playing Australia and France in the Autumn Internationals.

    Will be interesting to see how they both fare.



  • @MiketheSnow Tblisi - Dublin 3,960 kilometres Tokyo - Buenos Aires 18,358



  • @dogmeat said in Should Japan join the Rugby Championship?:

    @MiketheSnow Tblisi - Dublin 3,960 kilometres Tokyo - Buenos Aires 18,358

    Less about geographical distance and more about ability distance.

    And whilst a trip to Tblisi would be great - I've been, and Georgia is magic - does the 6N need them?



  • I understand the importance of the history in the 5N, but surely a promotion/ relegation system has to come in sooner or later if World Rugby is serious about growing the game?



  • My issue about Japan would be that it would ruin the 'authenticity' of the comp as a de facto SH Championship.

    There is some prestige / authenticity in that.

    If it's just a competition of teams with financially viable potential
    TV deals who are not in the 6Ns, then it loses a lot for me.

    I place value in the continental or hemispheric authenticity.

    If we were to do a separate* Asia-Pacific champs or Pacific Rim champs then yes I'd be for it.

    *Separate, not instead of.



  • If I was Steve Tew.

    My suggestion to get Japan into a competition.

    Create a Pcific Rim Cup.
    8 nations: NZ, Aus, Japan, Canada, USA, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga.

    2 pools of 4, = 3 games each. Then a final.

    Home and away structure, sort of, 2 home & 1 away or vice versa. (Then a grand final).
    Draw should be random rather than seeded so there is a chance nz and Aus are in same pool.

    Schedule this in the November international window (3 weeks), with either first round or final outside the window.

    But, is a 4 yearly event (baby steps).

    Voila. You have brought Japan and growing USA market into 'our' sphere.

    It means NZ and Aus opt out of the NH November tours once every 4 years. This might have repercussions, seeing as it is reciprocal and all that ...... but seeing as there are 6 of 'them' wanting incoming tours from 4 of 'us' I think fall out will be minimal for the SH 'powers'.

    Seeing as they've just approved a future 'global calender' I think, this can't be done for about 5 years.

    So Steve, copy & paste this and hand it over to your successor to action in 2023 or whenever. This advice has been provided free of charge.



  • @Rapido said in Should Japan join the Rugby Championship?:

    If I was Steve Tew.

    My suggestion to get Japan into a competition.

    Create a Pcific Rim Cup.
    8 nations: NZ, Aus, Japan, Canada, USA, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga.

    2 pools of 4, = 3 games each. Then a final.

    Home and away structure. (Excels final).

    A very expensive operation, that will lose NZ large amounts of money. And not for better rugby either.

    Other than Japan, none of the others can fill much of a stadium at paying rates. Advertising revenues would be close to zero. Meanwhile we would lose the chance to get good paying games in the NH.

    We tried similar things in the past with the Maori and NZ A taking part -- and still winning. They weren't hugely successful, but at least gave our second tier players some experience.

    If this was to get off the ground, many of the more experienced ABs would not play (take sabbaticals, have "injuries", be rested to avoid overwork and give new guys a run). I suspect it would be like those farcical RWC games where both sides know the result and run out their B side.

    Does not get my vote, sorry. Good intentions don't pay the bills.



  • @Chester-Draws

    This isn't about good intentions, this is about turning November (a cost) into a money-making month. But mostly, with longer term benefits rather than short term.

    There would of course be unintended consequences not yet thought out. Some good, some bad. Like;

    • The value of Arg & Saf in the NH during that November would increase.
    • Georgia would get a look in for some November games against 6N sides in NZ & Aus's absence.
    • the value of NZ & Aus for out of window games would increase due to in-window scarcity.
    • lack of exposure to NH rugby might hurt nz, Aus on the field. Based on current swing of playing power away from sanzar.
    • or a huge political inter-hemisphere shit fight, with financial ruin ......

    Something I haven't considered in post above is that the NH November window happens only 3 out of every 4 years already due to RWC timing. Reducing NZ and Aus involvement to 2 out of 4 might be a stretch too far.

    Of course the other option is the June window, but then I would agree with you that NZRU would take a big financial hit.



  • @Rapido This is basically a variation of the Pacific Nations Cup (no need for another name). And if the JABs and Australia 'A' take part in this tournament again (not the ABs and Wallabies!), as has been done in the past, this tournament could be played more often than once every four years in the June window. It's nothing new, and should be easier to arrange.

    In years of RWC qualification, they could - for that purpose - put the three PI countries in the same pool and Canada, USA and Japan in the same pool.

    South Africa 'A', England 'A', Emerging Italy, Argentina XV etc are all "next senior level (XVs)" teams that play every, single year. They play either tournaments or tours. The Junior All Blacks, basically a combination of the Maori ABs and NZ Baabaas (teams both used for developing/giving game time for fringe All Blacks and up-and-coming ABs), would still beat countries like Japan, USA and Canada as the Maori ABs have done in the past. So participation of the JABs would benefit these countries and it would benefit the ABs. Japan (etc) could continue playing the (senior) ABs like they are doing now, as the first (or last) game of a November tour once every x years.

    Once a country like Japan starts winning the PNC every single year, including regularly beating the JABs, they might be ready for joining the Rugby Championship.



  • There was a Pacific Rim Cup before the Pacific Nations cup. It later changed its name to the sponsors Epsom Cup. It was USA, Can, Japan plus the 3 PI Nations.

    It had IRB funding. Then got stopped after a few years by the IRB when it wasn't yet financially self funding. IRB had smaller pockets back then. Circa early 2000s.

    The Pacific Nations Cup came a few years later. And has had many forms.



  • @Rapido Ah, okay, thanks for that.



  • @Rapido was also the CANZ comp too, cant recall exactly how it worked, but for the NZ teams it was those outside the big 5 who were in the Super 10?



  • @taniwharugby The CANZ series was a round robin tournament. Originally it was North Auckland, Waikato and Otago from NZ, Canada and 2 Argentinean clubs (1989-90). North Harbour later joined and the Argies dropped out (1992).


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