The Sunwolves have called on fans to continue supporting the side following the announcement that they will be axed from Vodacom Super Rugby after the 2020 season.
Super Rugby will return to a 14-team, round-robin tournament in 2021, similar to the format that ran between 2006 and 2010.
‘On behalf of the whole Sunwolves family we are obviously very disappointed by this decision,’ said Japan Super Rugby Association CEO Yuji Watase in a statement.
‘The Sunwolves have been involved in Super Rugby since 2016 and remain a very important piece in the high-performance landscape for rugby in Japan.
‘We wish to thank all our loyal supporters and fans, who are the best supporters in Super Rugby, for all their continued support. We further ask that they stick with us until the end of 2020 to ensure Japan Rugby is at the forefront of the international game, both on and off the field of play.’
Meanwhile, Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle explained why Sanzaar had decided to drop the Sunwolves.
‘The reality is as much as we see Japan being an incredibly important part of the future of rugby, when the JRFU withdrew their underwrite support for the Sunwolves, and they couldn’t find another to guarantee that underwrite, it left the Sanzaar partners in an exposed position financially and we didn’t think that was in the best interests of the Super Rugby partnership.’