The Japanese Top League will be restructured for the next two seasons in order to aid the Sunwolves' Super Rugby preparation in future.
The format change comes amid concerns for the welfare of the country's top players and will see Japan's premier 16-team competition divided into a two-conference system for the next two years.
Each team will play the the seven others in their own conference, while also playing six cross-conference games to determine the rankings for the playoffs.
'We talked with Brave Blossoms coach Jamie Joseph, national team director Masahiro Kunda, as well as the 16 teams and created this new format,' said Top League commissioner Osamu Ota.
'Our first priority is to contribute to the development of the Japan national team. We also wanted to give the Sunwolves at least five weeks before they played their first game,' he added.
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