7 Mar 2009

Japan has the dollars as well as the love for rugby

7:21 am on 7 March 2009

Australia's players union has urged rugby chiefs not to dismiss Japan as a serious candidate for inclusion in a 2011 Super 15.

While Melbourne are undeniable front-runners and Gold Coast have promised a huge fight to be the fifth team in the Australian conference of the expanded competition, the Australian Rugby Union Players Association says Japan can't be ignored.

Australian Rugby Union chief John O'Neill this week indicated governing body SANZAR believed Japan was a more likely prospect for a Super 16 or Super 20 in 2015, and wasn't ready now.

But RUPA boss Tony Dempsey says tournament organisers need to be more conscious of the commercial benefits of opening the door to the Land of the Rising Sun.

Dempsey says rugby has to look beyond what looks altruistic and what looks attractive to the average rugby follower and be commercial about this as well, because it's a very competitive sporting market.

He says Japan is the second biggest economy in the world and they love their rugby.