Rugby: It's wait and see

Rugby: It's wait and see
Rugby player Sainivalati Ramuwai (third from left), from the Asia Pacific Dragons, holding the Ablitt Cup after his team trounced HSBC Penguins 43-5 at the final of the Singapore Cricket Club International Rugby sevens (SCC 7s) tournament held at the Padang on 3 November 2013.

SINGAPORE - Singapore will have to play the waiting game before knowing if they are Super Rugby's newest participants.

In February, the Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) confirmed its interest in fielding a professional team in the prestigious Southern Hemisphere competition in 2016, when it expands from 15 to 18 clubs.

To assemble the new outfit, the SRU joined forces with Hong Kong-based Carinat Sports Marketing, which owns the Asia Pacific Dragons (above), an invitational side that showcases the region's best players.

The competition will see the addition of a South African outfit and a team from Buenos Aires, while the announcement revealing the 18th franchise was scheduled to be made this week.

Singapore, backed by the new 55,000-seater National Stadium which would be home to the Dragons, are up against Japan for the coveted spot.

But, according to news reports in South Africa, the decision has been postponed as there are several "loose ends which need tying" and more information to pore over.

The same report also said the decision will be known only next month.

Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Jon Phelps, managing director of Carinat Sports Marketing, said he has not heard anything from the league's governing body, Sanzar.

Said Phelps: "We are reading the same information as you guys are but, officially, we've yet to hear from Sanzar. "Obviously, as bidders, we will be the first to hear of the decision and will be in direct communication with SRU when it comes in.

"But I have no idea when that will be."

News reports from Australia revealed that Japan is the front-runner to win the bid, as it is seen as a preferred option to Sanzar for many reasons.

RUGBY CULTURE

Japan has an established rugby culture, big player base, higher profile and stadiums, and will also host the 2019 World Cup.

A source also revealed to TNP that Japan, if allowed to join Super Rugby, could play several of their "home" games in Singapore and Hong Kong.

"That is one of the proposals from Japan to Sanzar," said the source.

"Initially, Singapore was preferred because it is closer to Japan for some of the Southern hemisphere teams, especially South Africa, which does not have a direct flight to Tokyo.

"But after Japan agreed to share some home games, the South Africans are now in agreement with Japan."

The Super Rugby competition is currently made up of five clubs each from the rugby powerhouses of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.


This article was first published on October 3, 2014.
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