It has to be Japan

Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)
Fourie du Preez feeds the scrum and the ball is nicely channelled through the legs of Jason Eaton and Andries Bekker. Schalk Burger picks and goes, makes yards down the right hand side before recycling the ball at the breakdown via some handy work by Heinrich Brussow. Du Preez sends a neat little pass to Jaque Fourie, who beats a defender with ease before putting Nick Cummins away in the corner for a well worked try from first phase.

A vision from a 2016 game at Newlands after a Stormers spending spree in next year’s transfer window?

Perhaps, but it’s more likely a vision from a 2016 game at the Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Tokyo against the Stormers!

That is if Japan edge Singapore in the two-horse race for that final spot in the monstrously complex Super 18 that will include an Argentinean side, set to be deployed in 2016.

Sure there is a SANZAR pre-requisite that any team added to Super Rugby needs to be made up of local players and not “mercenaries”, but remember how long that lasted at the Kings last year?

It would be bloody ironic, though, to see players who have left the current SANZAR nations to play less rugby, at a lower intensity, while being paid up to eight times what they would get in South Africa, having to play Super Rugby again.

And my oath, will these guys travel!

Five games in SA and two games in either Australia or New Zealand. Another irony given that one of the fundamental reasons for the change to this new structure is that players have simply had enough of the travel. To the extent that the SA players basically put an ultimatum to SARU, saying cut it down or we are out.

And this is why Singapore, quite ridiculously, will probably win the bid. There is no direct flight to Tokyo so the trip to the Far East will take close on 23 hours for the SA sides. Singapore, on the other hand, is an 11 hour flight.

It’s no wonder current Japanese coach Eddie Jones has his knickers in a knot, saying SANZAR will lose all credibility” if they award the team to Singapore.

"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,” said Jones

It’s difficult to argue given that Japan recently beat Sri Lanka 132-10 and Singapore are ranked 10 spots lower than them at No 58 in the world!

The new format will see SA sides fly to Argentina for a one-off game, either Singapore or Japan for a one-off game, and either Australia OR New Zealand for two games. So it remains four games outside South Africa, but the Tour Down under is cut in half, and the intensity of the opposition in the other two one-off away games drops massively.

I am afraid SA players have to suck it up because this bid needs to go to Japan.

Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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