Super Rugby goes global: Argentinian and Japanese franchises to join from 2016

 
Joe Hall
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Japanese international Fumiaki Tanaka playing for the Highlanders (Source: Getty)

The most prestigious club competition in southern hemisphere rugby will have franchises from Japan and Argentina added to its ranks from 2016.

Super Rugby currently features 15 franchises from established rugby union heavyweights New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.

The competition will be stretched to 18 teams after the participation of teams based in Buenos Aires and Tokyo, as well as a new franchise from South Africa, was confirmed at an executive committee meeting in London today.

Both Argentina and Japan are aiming to push themselves into the elite of rugby union. Today's development follows the Argentinian national side's entry into the Rugby Championship alongside Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, while Japan will be the first "Tier 2" nation to host a Rugby World Cup in 2019.

The two new franchises will be entered into the South African conference of the competition. It might sound like a logistical nightmare, yet already steps have been made to cut down on travel times - three of the Tokyo franchise’s home games will be played in Singapore.

SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters was keen to stress that both Argentina and Japan had the rugby legacy and fanbase to support the franchises.

He said:

It gives me great pleasure to welcome the JRFU and UAR who will join the Kings from South Africa as Super Rugby prepares to expand into a bold and exciting new era.

As Top 10 ranked rugby nations with established high performance level leagues and over 100,000 players each, there is no doubt as to Japan and Argentina's rugby readiness and passion for the sport.

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