Rugby Championship
World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset backs Japan inclusion in Rugby Championship
ESPN Staff
November 10, 2015
Ecstatic Japan players celebrate their surprise victory
Ecstatic Japan players celebrate their surprise victory© Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset has issued his backing to Japan's potential inclusion in the Rugby Championship, saying it will benefit southern hemisphere rugby and the global game.

Japan, the host of the next Rugby World Cup in 2019, is riding the crest of a rugby wave after a string of impressive performances at England 2015 saw interest in the sport sky rocket back home.

And, following praise for Argentina's 2012 inclusion in the Rugby Championship, Lapasset revealed he would love to see the Brave Blossoms mix it with the Pumas, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa on a regular basis.

"Japan is part of the total global vision of the rugby that we are promoting in the world, especially in the south with Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia," Lapasset said.

"That's the top five -- with Japan. Not just Tier Two and Tier One, the top five. We need to achieve the process that all five will be pushing together to develop the southern competition and to promote the best rugby ever that we can do in the south.

"We did the same in the north with the Six Nations. Now it will be the five nations in the south."

On the back of Japan's historic victory over two-time world champions South Africa, around 20 million people tuned in to watch the defeat to Scotland before 25 million people watched their win against Samoa.

Interest looks set to increase further with the debut of Japan's new Super Rugby franchise -- the Sunwolves -- in this year's competition, while the men's sevens side this weekend secured qualification for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

The Sunwolves kick off their Super Rugby campaign in Tokyo on February 27 when they host the Lions, and Lapasset hopes Japan's involvement will promote rugby across Asia.

"The Super Rugby is a good format to promote rugby in the South that includes some matches in Singapore," Lapasset said. "That's important to extend the value and the quality of the game in Asia."

© ESPN Staff

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