Japan’s Rugby Football Union (JRFU) looks set to move ahead with plans for a new domestic league following the local response to it’s national teams World Cup campaign.

Katsuyuki Kiyomiya, JRFU vice president, first announced plans for a new league in July and has since been speaking to potential partners. It is also reported that he will be holding a news conference in November to set out the plans for a competition that is expected to launch by 2021.

Kiyomiya, who is also a former Rugby coach who has previously worked Suntory Sungoliath and Jubilo Yamaha, stated: “This World Cup is a big event Japanese rugby has not experienced before and we are tested on how we take the excitement and enthusiasm created by this event to the next level.”

Japan’s current domestic league, the Top League, consists of 16-teams but doesn’t attract major players or generate profit due to its small scale. Moreover, most of the teams competing in the league are run under Japan’s industry-led sports model in which large organisations, such as Toyota, Toshiba and Panasonic, operate teams for public welfare purposes. 

The new 12-team league on the other hand would aim to generate an annual revenue in the region of $460m from the sale of media and sponsorship rights. Moreover, Kiyomiya has also stated that he hopes the new competition, which is planned to run from August to January so that it doesn’t overlap with the Super Rugby championship, will attract international stars from Super Rugby. 

Potential partners for the new league include Fujio Mitarai, president of the Rugby World Cup 2019 organising committee and Saburo Kawabuchi, an adviser to the Japanese Football Association who helped create the country’s professional football and basketball leagues. 

OTT Platform DAZN is also reported to be another future partner for the league, with its streaming service able to provide the competition with a larger outreach.

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