The Sunwolves have confirmed they have entered discussions with Rugby Australia about joining the proposed new domestic competition set to kick off in July.
Australia’s governing body have been planning a revamped six-team competition following the indefinite suspension of Super Rugby in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The involved teams include the nation’s four Super Rugby sides – the Brumbies, Reds, Waratahs and Rebels – as well as the Western Force, who were axed from the SANZAAR competition in 2017, and the Japan-based Sunwolves.
While the resumption of Super Rugby remains implausible due to international travel restrictions, there is optimism that the Sunwolves, who primarily play out of Tokyo, will be able to take part in the Australian competition.
Their participation would serve as a dignified send off after it was announced last year that 2020 would be their final season in Super Rugby as the competition looks to revert back to a 14-team, round-robin format from next year onwards.
Sunwolves chief executive Yuji Watase told Reuters on Tuesday that their induction into an Australian competition would be warmly welcomed as they look to leave a lasting impression on the league they first joined as an expansion side back in 2016.
“Yes, we’ve been discussing with Rugby Australia about restarting the competition and they’ve been helping us to proceed with our involvement,” Watase said.
“This is to be the last season, and we definitely would like to leave a legacy.”
Watase added that despite their potential involvement in the Australian competition, he doesn’t expect that to result in his franchise being invited back into Super Rugby once it continues as normal next season.
He said that SANZAAR would have the final say on their involvement in the southern hemisphere competition, which is different to the Australian league as that will be organised and run by Rugby Australia.
The Western Force say they have yet to receive a formal invitation to compete in Rugby Australia's mooted domestic competition scheduled to start in July.https://t.co/jELOrw5GdT
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) May 12, 2020
Watase’s comments a day after it was revealed that the Western Force were yet to receive an invitation to play in the competition, despite their widely reported involvement.
“The Western Force has not to date received a formal invitation to participate in the proposed 2020 Australian domestic competition,” Global Rapid Rugby chief executive Mark Evans said in a statement.
“There may be some interest on our part, but to suggest the Western Force has agreed to participate is inaccurate.
“Until an invitation, complete with full competition details and arrangements, is forthcoming and has been agreed to, the Force will continue to review a range of playing options for the remainder of 2020 and beyond.”
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