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Saru looking at Singapore for Super18


Singapore has leapt to the front of the queue as the favourite to be the 18th Vodacom Super Rugby franchise from 2016 if reports are to be believed.


According to the supersport.com website, it would always have been an ambitious task to try and find a new franchise from a developing rugby nation to play in the toughest franchise competition in the world, but while Sanzar are yet to make any announcements on who will join the six South African franchises and an Argentinean team in the new competition, reports from Australia say that the South African Rugby Union are already flexing their muscles in this regard.

SARU had a set of unwavering principles for the expansion of Super Rugby. It had a mandate to get the Southern Kings into the competition, organise less of a travel burden for teams and a better financial deal for South African rugby.

But while Australia has been pushing hard to extend its Asian influence and get a team from Japan into the competition, it has reportedly met with a brick wall from SARU as to their participation.

Singapore has proposed a team called the Asia Pacific Dragons – a team made up of local players blended with a heavy Pacific Island influence with former All Black Tana Umaga mentioned as their possible coach.

The problem for Sanzar is that while Japan may be a more viable team, logistics kill off their bid – especially with no direct flight to Tokyo and given that South African franchises will have to make the trip to the Far East, it could take up to 23 hours to get a team into the land of the Rising Sun.

That will significantly increase the travel burden on South African teams, who have by far the worst travelling burden of all teams in Super Rugby.

Singapore, on the other hand, is an 11 hour flight, but there are also question marks whether the 18th franchise simply needs to become a feeder for Australia and New Zealand, who regularly lure Pacific Island players to their shores.

Plus the other massive question that Sanzar itself put as a pre-requisite is that any team needed to be made up of local players so not to be “mercenaries”.

Current Japanese coach Eddie Jones said in his column in Australian newspapers that Sanzar “will lose all credibility” if they award the team to Singapore.

“It is a joke that Singapore is even being considered as the base for the 18th Super Rugby team when Japan ticks all the right boxes for forward thinking.”

“If travel is the deciding factor then Dubai should be selected and rugby ethos and history ignored altogether.”

“Enough of that nonsense. Rugby has had a footprint in Japan since 1899 … and there are more than 100 000 players and 3500 clubs in the country. ”

“Japan has become the first Asian nation to reach 10th in the world and the Rugby World Cup is heading here in 2019.”

Jones said that he was “not being biased as Japan’s coach but any smart organisation should see the value of promoting Japan as an expansion team in Super 18.”

“Through their TV rights clout, South Africa are pushing the Singapore bid where rugby is linked to the gin-and-tonic set at the Singapore Cricket Club and no players.”

“They would play in a grand new stadium but every player in a Singapore-based team would be an import.”

“Consider this. Japan recently beat Sri Lanka 132-10 and Singapore are ranked 10 spots lower than them at No 58 in the world,” said Jones.

Sanzar could make the announcement of the new team by September, but initially there was also interest from America to have a franchise in the competition.

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  1. SARU… single-handedly destroying the last bastion of what was the most hardcore club rugby comp in the world…

    Please NZAR… boot them sharpish…

  2. Japan is an absolute no go from an SA perspective.

    I like it that SARU is finally acting it’s size vis-a-vis the NZRU and ARU.

    But I don’t like Singapore much either.
    The best solution by far will be a dark skinned PI team based in South Africa and playing home-games in the unused WC stadiums.

  3. @Timeo:

    Why would any PI team be based across the Indian Ocean when they have huge support bases in Australia and NZ?

    Not going to happen…

    And a mish-mash team in Singapore is just too ludicrous to mention…

    This is a SH competition… which has now been diluted to suit some pathetic RSA political agenda…

  4. someone always gets paid when it does not make sense – for example a team in Singapore?!, makes no sense from a rugby standpoint hence you can be sure someone is getting paid/lobbied to do it.

  5. I thought this was an April fool’s joke missed by the editor. I know we have some seriously stupid fools in SARU, but this is just AMAZING! Maybe they are too desperate to not have the last few teams on the log every year – that’s why we are not including Kenya, which will give Singapore a hiding with their C team….

  6. @bryce_in_oz:

    It’s not a PI team. It’s a South African team that would be specifically geared to gain support among black South Africans.

    PI players are merely the most readily available and talented dark skinned players.

    And with no connection to any legacy South African rugby union, it will be SA’s first true professional outfit.

  7. @Timeo:

    “It’s a South African team that would be specifically geared to gain support among black South Africans.”

    They already have that… The Kings… and the reason this entire mess started… and now you want to give RSA a 7th team to prop the bottom of the log…

    Not going to happen…

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