Japanese Rugby Union League 2021 Proposals
The rumour-mill around a proposed new Japanese rugby union league commencing in 2021 has been around for months since Japanese Rugby Football Union vice-president Katsuyuki Kiyomiya mentioned it in 2019. Today some more information was released on how the league will proposedly operate.
What is being proposed for the Rugby Union league in 2021?
This information summary comes from RugbyNewsJapan and we will keep tabs on any more information.
- Teams are meant to serve as a business function but will incorporate the region name into the team name.
- Teams will, therefore, represent a “home area” and must secure a stadium for 2021.
- The aim is to have 8-12 teams in 2 divisions.
- Targets are for 1st division teams to attract 15,000 fans per game.
- New & existing teams can apply to join by the end of March 2020.
- Foreign investments are acceptable but foreign-based teams won’t be.
- Professionalism is not really addressed in the proposal.
Will this benefit the Brave Blossoms?
In an article released by Kyodo News, Japan head coach Jamie Joseph appears not too happy with the new league plans. He said: “We need to have a competition structure that allows our players to develop, to have an opportunity to have a rest from rugby, an opportunity to rehabilitate their injuries and recondition so they can be the best athletes that they can possibly be.”
Joseph lead Japan to its best-ever Rugby World Cup in 2019 and has signed on until 2023, however, he also voiced his concerns over the new league being played outside of the current (Japan Top League) December-May window. “It doesn’t conflict with international rugby and allows the players to recondition and be ready for the July and November tests.”
Japan has a very test-heavy 2019 coming up with home games in June-July and they will tour Europe at the end of the year.
Why a new rugby union league in Japan?
In 2019, Kiyomiya said, “This World Cup is a big event Japanese rugby has not experienced before and we are tested on how we take the excitement and enthusiasm created by this event to the next level.”
The plans previously were to have the league start in August 2021 but since the announcements, it has not been clear. Some of the other major obstacles are:
- Season dates: If they want to attract foreign players, will they play the same time as the Super Rugby or leagues in the northern hemisphere?
- Financial confidence: Although Kiyomiya was adamant about financial returns, the league might only start 2 years are RWC 2019 by which time the high levels of public interest will have possibly wained?
- Broadcast rights: Who will bid for international broadcast rights, much will depend on the congested rugby union calendar.
- Infrastructure: The new information wants each team to have a home stadium, but by the time of the RWC, only 3 rugby purpose-built stadiums were in Japan.
Other interesting reads on Rugby in Asia
- The top Asian national rugby tournaments in 2020.
- Rhino has signed a deal with Asia Rugby until 2024.
- The RWC 2021 Women’s Asia Qualifiers include Japan, HK and Kazakhstan.
- Global Rapid Rugby kicks off in March, will there be a Chinese based team?