Rugby Australia plans to find out if the Sunwolves are interested in joining an eight-team tournament in case New Zealand’s trans-Tasman plans fails.
According to Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, the Sunwolves – as well as teams from Fiji and Argentina – would be invited to an eight-team tournament based in Australia due to travel restrictions with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The move is reportedly being made as a contingency just in case Rugby Australia fails to reach an agreement with New Zealand Rugby over the plans for a trans-Tasman tournament.
New Zealand and Australia are currently in discussions over how many Australian teams would be allowed into the trans-Tasman tournament. New Zealand’s proposal features a total of between eight to 10 teams including five New Zealand sides and, potentially, an Auckland-based Pasifika team. But NZR has suggested just two or three Australian teams be invited.
Rugby Australia is insisting on five teams – the Reds, Waratahs, Rebels, Brumbies and the Western Force – be involved.
The Daily Telegraph reported that if an agreement cannot be reached, Rugby Australia is expected to go alone and attempt to form a tournament with the Sunwolves, Fijian Drua and Argentinian teams.
The Sunwolves were cut from Vodacom Super Rugby this year after five seasons in the southern-hemisphere competition. The decision was reportedly based on commercial reasons as the Japan Rugby Football Union did not guarantee payment for the team’s financial losses.
A Rugby Australia spokesman told the Sydney Morning Herald the Sunwolves’ participation would have to be funded by the Japan Rugby Football Union.
However, the Daily Telegraph understood ‘the JRFU would now be willing to fund the Sunwolves and accommodate them in Australia, given it is unlikely Japan could host matches early next year’.
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