20 Mar 2019

Sunwolves reports surprise rivals

5:34 pm on 20 March 2019

The reported axing of the Sunwolves from Super Rugby has come as a surprise to a coach of a team who have played the Japanese side already this season.

The Sunwolves celebrate their upset win over the Chiefs in Hamilton.

The Sunwolves celebrate their upset win over the Chiefs in Hamilton. Photo: Photosport

News has surfaced in Australia that the competition's lone Asian team are set to be dropped by governing body SANZAAR.

The report in The Australian states the Sunwolves have refused to pay a participation fee, a stipulation which was placed on them but no other team.

SANZAAR released a statement on Wednesday saying an an official statement on the future of the Super Rugby would be made at 4pm on Friday.

The Sunwolves have narrowly lost their last two matches to the Blues and Reds, but prior to that they upset the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Blues assistant coach Tom Coventry said the Japanese side have shown great progress already this season.

"They've been put together quickly [but] they've been really competitive.

"They've got better and better, they've been able to recruit well and they've been no flash in the pan, they've been good this year so that [report] surprises me.

"But then again Super Rugby is in a changing landscape, as is world rugby at the moment, so I can understand where that thought comes from.

"What the competitions are going to look like in the next couple of years who knows, it's a bit of a moving beast at the moment."

The Sunwolves joined Super Rugby in 2016 and have won just seven of the 43 matches they have played since.

However this year they have looked a much improved side.

After pushing the Waratahs, they knocked over the Chiefs in comprehensive fashion before making the Blues work hard for what was the Auckland-based team's first win of the season.

The Japanese outfit led by 16 points at halftime before being pipped 34-31 by the Reds in Tokyo last weekend and after the match, the comments made by Queensland coach Brad Thorn reflected Coventry's assessment of the Sunwolves.

"You look at that game today, look at the Sunwolves this season, they've been outstanding.

"It's so good for rugby in Japan, look at the crowd. I know as a team, we love coming here too.

"I think it would disappointing and sad if the Sunwolves were no longer a part of it."

The report in The Australian said South African interests supported the axing of the Sunwolves because of their inability to attract good crowds and the long trip for away matches against the team.