Until this season, the Top League and the Super Rugby operated in harmony.
The SANZAAR competition typically ran from early February until July while Japan’s premier rugby league kicked off in August and would typically finish by the end of the year.
The Top League has completed the bulk of their player drug testing for the year:
That all changed this year, primarily due to Japan’s hosting of the Rugby World Cup.
With Japan’s major stadiums all in use from September until early November, the 2019-2020 Top League competition was pushed out until early January – which created a significant overlap with Super Rugby.
The relatively late decision to move the Top League caused a few headaches around the world.
Brodie Retallick, for example, is spending two seasons in Japan on a sabbatical of sorts. While in the past Retallick would have been able to feature in both the Top League and for his Chiefs in Super Rugby, that hasn’t been the case this year.
While the current rugby season has effectively been indefinitely suspended due to coronavirus, there may have still been some hope that men like Retallick could feature in next year’s Super Rugby competition. That hope has now been extinguished, however.
Top League boss Osamu Ota today confirmed that next year’s competition will again start in January which will again create an overlap with Super Rugby.
In related news, while the regular season of Top League was cancelled, there was hope that the All-Japan Championship – a play-off between the top four teams in the Top League – would still take place. It’s now been confirmed that set of matches won’t take place in 2020 which effectively means there’s no more club rugby on the calendar in Japan for the year.
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