Singapore and Japan lead Super Rugby shortlist
June 29, 2014
Greg Peters said SANZAR had received half a dozen expressions of interest to become the 18th Super Rugby franchise © Getty Images
Singapore and Japan have emerged as leading candidates to host a new Super Rugby team as SANZAR officials prepare for an expansion of the competition.
A shortlist of possible of potential teams will be announced later this week after SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters revealed there had been "half a dozen" expressions of interest in becoming the 18th Super Rugby outfit.
Singapore and Japan have submitted official bids to host the 18th team and are early favourites to join a sixth South African franchise, the Port Elizabeth-based Southern Kings, and a new Argentinian side.
New Zealand Rugby Union chairman Brent Impey confirmed that a Singapore or Japanese-based team was the early favourite. A new team is expected to need up to $100 million (£60 million) over a five-year period and Impey told Fairfax Media that he was confident that SANZAR will be able to find a financially stable side.
"There are a couple of options which have already come out of Asia," Impey said. "That gives us confidence that we'll be able to see the 18th team not only meet the financial and commercial qualifications but the playing strength as well.
"I can't be too specific because the applications are confidential at this time but there have been indications which are positive coming out of both Japan and Singapore."
Asia is considered an attractive market for establishing a Super Rugby team and it is hoped a franchise on the continent will slow the steady flow of Pacific Island players to European clubs, making them more available for their respective national unions.
With an Asian-based side, Island players could help bridge the gap for local Asian players who may initially struggle with Super Rugby's intense physical demands.
"It's an opportunity to find a positive outlet for them," Impey said. "I suspect that's where the strength of that team will come from. If, for example, there was a team out of Singapore that was populated with a number of Pacific Island players to give it strength, that's the start of a model which could work."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd