Japan in discussions to join either the Six Nations or Rugby Championship

Japan

Japan Rugby Football Union CEO Kensuke Iwabuchi has revealed that he is in talks with both the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship.

Although Japan have proved themselves to be one of the strongest sides in the world in recent years, having beaten Scotland and Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, they do not participate in an annual competition.

The Brave Blossoms only played six test matches in 2021, having not played at all in 2020 due to the pandemic, and won just one of those six matches last year, against Portugal.

Iwabuchi was speaking to the JRFU’s official website and stressed the importance of Japan’s involvement in one of rugby’s major annual international competitions.

Japan in talks with the Six Nations and Rugby Championship.

“For our national teams to have not played for the best part of two years has had a huge impact,” Iwabuchi said, via Australian publication 7News.

“We definitely need to be involved in regular international competition, otherwise we cannot expect to maintain consistently strong sides. Europe has the Six Nations and the Southern Hemisphere have the Rugby Championship.

“We’re in discussions with both competitions, but while Japan is technically in the Northern Hemisphere, from a time-zone perspective we’re closer to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific nations, so it probably makes sense to connect with their competitions.”

The Brave Blossoms’ future.

As Iwabuchi said above, Japan will likely end up playing in the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship, if they do gain entry to one of the two major annual international competitions.

Japanese club side the Sunwolves previously played in the southern hemisphere’s primary club competition, Super Rugby, for five years, before the JRFU decided to disband the team and focus on their domestic competition.

The Rugby Championship currently includes New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina, and any changes to the participants would likely happen in 2024, after the next Rugby World Cup.

Fiji may also be in with a chance of joining the competition, based on the recent strong performances, which would also ensure there is no bye weeks for any teams as the number of sides participating would be brought up to an even six.

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