The proposed ‘Eight Nations’ tournament that was expected to take place this autumn has hit a new major obstacle, with reports emerging that Japan will no longer participate in the competition and creating a vacancy that might potentially be filled by Georgia – if online rugby fans have their way.
Safety concerns amid the Covid-19 pandemic are the reason behind Jamie Joseph’s side withdrawing. The two-pool tournament which starts in November was set to include Japan and Fiji alongside the usual Six Nations teams, but now organisers will be left to figure out what to do.
One alternative that seems to be popular already is to invite Georgia into the competition, an option that some were bemused had not been taken from the start.
The Eastern Europeans are a team that have been knocking on the door of the Six Nations for some time – and this may finally give them a foot in the door.
Source at JRFU says #BraveBlossoms will NOT travel to Europe in autumn to play in proposed 8-Nations tournament, citing concerns of #COVID?19 infection, and problems with coaching staff returning to Japan to arrange camps.#rugbyjp https://t.co/oGCZw5unMs
— Rich Freeman (@FreemanrugbyJPN) August 27, 2020
Japan refused an invitation to the 8 Nations tournament in Europe. As they can't travel due to COVID.
Another chance for @GeorgianRugby to get in the tournament? It will be huge for Georgian rugby, not only for playing reasons, but it will help rugby in Georgia survive.
— Luka ?? (@luka_chiti) August 27, 2020
If Japan can't travel, can Georgia be involved instead (if safe for players and staff)? ?? https://t.co/DQUgPXMg5R
— Eléna de Mello Hogarth (@MelloHog) August 27, 2020
Such a plan is nothing more than wishful thinking at the moment – and nothing official has been confirmed about the future of this proposed tournament.
It is not even clear whether Georgia would want to take part in the competition at the eleventh hour. Moreover, after years of striving to have a chance of joining the Six Nations, it would be even more frustrating to fleetingly be involved in an off-shoot of the Six Nations and then discarded.
Can't say I'm suprised. Imagine Fiji must be thinking & feeling the same.
A 'Super 7' anyone?
Chance for likes or Georgia? https://t.co/ar6tRX5lZ1
— John Pearce ??????? (@JPearce_JP) August 27, 2020
Disappointing but understandable, wonder if anyone will think of inviting Georgia instead and help them out?
— Doug L (@dougl84) August 27, 2020
But after years of stagnation and torpor with regards to Georgia’s inclusion in the Six Nations, there would be no better way to speed up the process and force the organisers into action if they produced a strong showing at this ‘Eight Nations’, which would undoubtedly be at the back of their minds should they be invited to participate.
For what was already a tournament organised in unique and testing circumstances in what has been a rollercoaster of a rugby year, Japan’s “No” is yet another twist of fate. That, though, doesn’t mean there are no alternative options.
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