MELBOURNE (Reuters) – The Tokyo-based Sunwolves will be cut from Super Rugby after the 2020 season, southern hemisphere governing body SANZAAR confirmed on Friday, in a blow for Japan as the nation prepares to host the World Cup.
Super Rugby will revert back to a purely southern hemisphere affair of 14 teams, continuing the competition’s contraction since a disastrous expansion to 18 sides in 2016.
“The revised format will come into operation and kick-off in 2021. The Sunwolves from Japan will drop out of the existing 15-team Super Rugby competition at the end of the 2020 season,” SANZAAR said in a statement.
The Sunwolves, the first Asian team in the competition, were one of three expansion sides to join in the 2016 season, but they have struggled to be competitive, winning only seven games to date.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)