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.