The Sunwolves’ participation in a domestic Australian Vodacom Super Rugby tournament is in doubt due to ongoing travel restrictions in the country.
The Japanese team were in negotiations with Rugby Australia to take part in a planned 10-week domestic competition alongside the four other Australian franchises as well as the Western Force.
However, international travelers coming into Australia are still required to undergo a mandatory two-week quarantine due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This is proving a massive hurdle, especially as organisers hope the competition can get underway in July.
‘There’s nothing we can do in this situation but give up,’ Sunwolves CEO Yuji Watase commented.
Melbourne Rebels chief executive Baden Stephenson – who serves on Rugby Australia’s return-to-play committee – said the Force were set to be included in the tournament, but added that it looked less likely that the Sunwolves would be able to participate.
‘Things are progressing really well with the Force, but I think the international border restrictions are probably going to make it pretty hard for Japan,’ Stephenson told reporters in Melbourne.
‘At one stage they [Sunwolves] were thinking about using their Australian and New Zealand players with some Japanese players but I think that the more they worked through the process, the harder it is looking.’
An official announcement is expected to be made next week.
The 2020 Super Rugby season was set to be the Sunwolves’ last in the tournament after Sanzaar agreed to leave the team out of future seasons – reportedly due to a lack of television viewership.
However, the Japanese market is still said to be in Sanzaar’s plans and it has been reported that one possible future model of Super Rugby being discussed involves a post-season finals series with the best two teams from the Japanese Top League.
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