By Jack Tarrant
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Sunwolves said on Tuesday they would be eager to participate in Rugby Australia's proposed tournament in July as it would allow the side to leave a legacy before their Super Rugby departure.
On Monday, Rugby Australia said they were looking at potentially including both the Western Force and the Sunwolves in a competition with their four Super Rugby sides to start in early July.
The resumption of Super Rugby is impossible because of international travel bans so Australia is looking to follow New Zealand's lead by setting up a one-country competition to get players back on the pitch.
Before Super Rugby was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Sunwolves were playing in their final season before being axed from the otherwise southern hemisphere competition.
Sunwolves CEO Yuji Watase welcomed the proposal and said he would be happy for the team to be based in Australia for the duration of the competition.
"Yes, we've been discussing with Rugby Australia about restarting the competition and they've been helping us to proceed with our involvement," Watase told Reuters on Tuesday.
The 2020 season was set to be the Sunwolves’ last in Super Rugby, after the competition’s governing body SANZAAR and the Japanese Football Rugby Union failed to agree on the terms of their inclusion.
"This is to be the last season, and we definitely would like to leave a legacy," said Watase, who added that he doesn't expect participation in Rugby Australia's competition to lead to re-inclusion in Super Rugby next season.
"I believe participating in this competition is a different story from Super Rugby in the future. SANZAAR is the one to decide the future for Super Rugby," he said.
Rugby Australia said the competition would last for 12 weeks from early July with the last two rounds encompassing the playoffs and final.
Rugby Australia's Chief Medical Officer, Dr Warren McDonald, said a staged framework for a return to contact training by May 25 and full team training from June 8 had been submitted to the government for approval.
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)