Sunwolves

Last updated
Sunwolves
Sunwolves logo.svg
Union Japan Rugby Football Union
Founded2015
Disbanded1 June 2020
Location Tokyo, Japan
Ground(s) Chichibunomiya Stadium, Tokyo (most games)
Mong Kok Stadium, Hong Kong
Singapore Sports Hub, Singapore
Most caps Takuma Asahara (43)
Top scorer Hayden Parker (248)
Most tries Semisi Masirewa (13)
League(s) Super Rugby
2020 5th (Australian Conference)
15th (overall) (season abandoned)
Kit left arm Sunwolvesleft17.png
Kit left arm.svg
Kit body Sunwolveskit17.png
Kit body.svg
Kit right arm Sunwolvesright17.png
Kit right arm.svg
Kit shorts.svg
Kit socks Sunwolvessocks17.png
Kit socks long.svg
1st kit
Kit left arm Sunwolvesleftb17.png
Kit left arm.svg
Kit body Sunwolveskitb17.png
Kit body.svg
Kit right arm Sunwolvesrightb17.png
Kit right arm.svg
Kit shorts.svg
Kit socks Sunwolvessocksb17.png
Kit socks long.svg
2nd kit
Official website
sunwolves.or.jp/en/
Union website
jrfu.org

The Sunwolves (Japanese: サンウルブズ) – previously known as the HITO-Communications Sunwolves for sponsorship reasons – were a professional rugby union team and Japan's representative team in SANZAAR's international Super Rugby competition. The team was based in Tokyo, Japan, but also played some home matches in Singapore. They made their debut in Super Rugby in 2016. In March 2019, it was announced that 2020 would be the final season for the Sunwolves, after failing to negotiate a contract due to financial considerations. [1]

Contents

With the suspension of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Sunwolves being declined entry into the replacement Super Rugby AU competition in Australia due to various factors, the team officially dissolved on 1 June 2020. [2]

History

Inclusion in Super Rugby

Since its launch in 1996, the SANZAR-organised Super Rugby competition (previously known as Super 12 and Super 14) was limited to teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. In 2011, it was announced that SANZAR would expand its international Tri Nations competition to include Argentina, which resulted in that competition being rebranded as The Rugby Championship. [3] This led to rumours that Argentina would also seek to have teams included in the Super Rugby competition [4] [5] and SANZAR confirmed that they would explore expansion to other regions in future. However, since SANZAR sold the existing Super Rugby package to its broadcasters for the period 2011–15, it meant that no changes to the format would be permitted until the 2016 season. [6]

In 2013, SANZAR CEO Greg Peters announced that Super Rugby would be expanded from the 2016 season onwards, adding that South African franchise the Southern Kings would be one of the expansion teams. [7] In early 2014, SANZAR confirmed that Super Rugby would be increased from 15 to 18 teams starting from the 2016 season, with Argentine side Jaguares getting one of the additional spots. It was confirmed that both Argentina and the 18th team would participate in the South African Conference. [8]

Asia emerged as the preferred destination for the final licence and Japan and Singapore emerged as the main contenders to get the franchise. [9] With a number of factors counting in Japan's favour – such as their domestic professional league (the Top League) increasingly being able to attract big-name foreign players, the country being awarded the hosting of the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the Japanese national team breaking into the top ten of the World Rugby rankings for the first time in their history in 2014 [10] – they were subsequently granted the licence for the 18th franchise in October 2014 [11] – with an agreement reached that Singapore would host three of their home matches each season at the Singapore Sports Hub. [12] The new expanded format and three new teams were formally approved by the SANZAR Executive Committee in November 2014. [13]

In April 2015, the JRFU established a corporation called Japan Super Rugby Association that would manage the operations of the team. A number of key appointments were also made; Yoshitaka Tashiro was appointed as chairman, Yuichi Ueno as the CEO and on the playing side, the Japan national team's head coach Eddie Jones was appointed as the director of rugby for the team. [14] In May 2015, a website was launched to ask fans for team name suggestions.

However, several doubts were raised against Japan's ability to set up the team on time. In August 2015, Eddie Jones announced that he would leave his role as director of rugby amid speculation linking him to the vacant Stormers head coach position. [15] Subsequent media reports stated that governing body SANZAR were exploring alternative plans for the 2016 Super Rugby competition which excluded the Japanese team, [16] but the JRFU commented shortly after, confirming that they have met SANZAR's requirements by contracting players and other personnel by their end-of-August deadline. [17] [18] The validity of the player list submitted was questioned, with many players included not "generally associated with the national team". There were also suggestions that Top League teams requested that their players' appearances be limited in Super Rugby and that Top League matches would be prioritised. [19]

However, they were included in the Super Rugby fixture list that came out on 28 September 2015 [20] [21] and on 5 October 2015, it was announced that the team would be known as the Sunwolves. [22]

Name

The black version of the Sunwolves logo following their sponsorship deal with HITO-Communications. Sunwolves logo HITO-com.jpg
The black version of the Sunwolves logo following their sponsorship deal with HITO-Communications.

In May 2015, a website was launched to ask fans for team name suggestions. This was initially scheduled to be revealed at the end of July 2015, before being postponed to August. [23] On 5 October 2015, it was announced that the team would be known as the Sunwolves. [22] This name was chosen from 3,320 entries [24] and is a combination of the "Land of the Rising Sun" and the wolf, which was chosen to represent bravery, strength and an ethos of teamwork. The team's logo was also launched on the same date.

On 15 January 2016, the Sunwolves announced that they would be known as the HITO-Communications Sunwolves following a sponsorship agreement. [25]

Future

In March 2019, the Japanese Rugby Football Union announced the 2020 season would be the Sunwolves' last in Super Rugby after failing to negotiate a contract to play after that year for financial reasons. [26]

Season summaries

The following table summarises the Sunwolves' results in Super Rugby:

Sunwolves Super Rugby seasons
SeasonPlayedWonDrawnLostPFPAPosCoachCaptain
2016 15111329362718 of 18 Mark Hammett Shota Horie
2017 15201331567117 of 18 Filo Tiatia Ed Quirk
2018 15301340466415 of 15 Jamie Joseph
Tony Brown
Willie Britz
Yutaka Nagare
2019 16201429458415 of 15 Tony Brown Michael Little
Craig Millar
2020 610510129215 of 15 Naoya Okubo Keisuke Moriya
Jake Schatz

Legend: PF = Points for, PA = Points against, Pos = Log position.

Kit history

The Sunwolves have played in the following kits since their inception:

Sunwolves kits
SeasonHomeAway
2016
Kit left arm.svg
Kit body Sunwolveskit.png
Kit body.svg
Kit right arm Sunwolvesright.png
Kit right arm.svg
Kit shorts.svg
Kit socks Sunwolvessocks.png
Kit socks long.svg
2016 home kit
Kit left arm.svg
Kit body Sunwolveskitb.png
Kit body.svg
Kit right arm Sunwolvesrightb.png
Kit right arm.svg
Kit shorts.svg
Kit socks Sunwolvessocksb.png
Kit socks long.svg
2016 away kit
2017
Kit left arm Sunwolvesleft17.png
Kit left arm.svg
Kit body Sunwolveskit17.png
Kit body.svg
Kit right arm Sunwolvesright17.png
Kit right arm.svg
Kit shorts.svg
Kit socks Sunwolvessocks17.png
Kit socks long.svg
2017 home kit
Kit left arm Sunwolvesleftb17.png
Kit left arm.svg
Kit body Sunwolveskitb17.png
Kit body.svg
Kit right arm Sunwolvesrightb17.png
Kit right arm.svg
Kit shorts.svg
Kit socks Sunwolvessocksb17.png
Kit socks long.svg
2017 away kit

Stadium

Sunwolves home games are split between Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Tokyo, Japan and Singapore National Stadium, Singapore.

Tokyo, Japan Kallang, Singapore
Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium Singapore National Stadium
Capacity: 27,188Capacity: 55,000
Chichibunomiya3.JPG Seating at Singapore National Stadium.jpg

Staff

Final squad

The squad for the 2020 Super Rugby season: [27]

Sunwolves Super Rugby squad

Props

Hookers

Locks

Loose forwards

Scrum-halves

Fly-halves

Centres

Wingers

Fullbacks

(cc) Denotes team co-captains, Bold denotes internationally capped, TS denotes a training squad player, ST denotes a short-term signing.

    Coaching staff

    Jamie Joseph giving a speech at a Sunwolves match on 12 May 2018 James Whitinui Joseph-1.jpg
    Jamie Joseph giving a speech at a Sunwolves match on 12 May 2018

    The following coaching team was appointed for the 2020 Super Rugby season: [28]

    NameTitle
    Naoya Okubo Head coach
    Keisuke Sawaki Coaching coordinator
    Nathan Grey Technical Director
    Yoshikazu Tamura Assistant coach (scrum)
    Chihiro Ota Head Strength & Conditioning Coach

    List of head coaches

    CoachPeriodGWDL%HonoursRef.
    Flag of New Zealand.svg Mark Hammett 2016151113006.67 [29] [30] [31]
    Flag of New Zealand.svg Filo Tiatia 2017152013013.33 [32] [33] [34]
    Flag of New Zealand.svgFlag of Japan.svg Jamie Joseph 2018163013018.75 [35] [36] [37]
    Flag of New Zealand.svg Tony Brown 2019162014012.50 [38]
    Flag of Japan.svg Naoya Okubo 20206105016.67 [39]

    See also

    Related Research Articles

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Super Rugby</span> Rugby union club competition

    Super Rugby is a men's professional rugby union club competition involving teams from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. It previously included teams from Argentina, Japan, and South Africa. Building on various Southern Hemisphere competitions dating back to the South Pacific Championship in 1986, with teams from a number of southern nations, the Super Rugby started as the Super 12 in the 1996 season with 12 teams from 3 countries: Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The Super 12 was established by SANZAR after the sport became professional in 1995. At its peak the tournament featured the top players from nations representing 16 of the 24 top-three finishes in the history of the Rugby World Cup. After the COVID-19 pandemic forced the competition to split into three, the reformed competition in 2021 and beyond will only include Oceanian clubs representing Australia, New Zealand and from the Pacific islands.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">SANZAAR</span>

    SANZAAR is the body which oversees Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship competitions in rugby union. SANZAAR meets annually and is composed of the CEOs from its member unions.

    Mark Garry 'Hammer' Hammett is a New Zealand rugby union coach and former player. Having represented Canterbury provincially 76 times, and the Crusaders 81 times and the All Blacks 30 times – including 29 Test matches, Hammett later went on to coach both Canterbury and Crusaders as a forwards/assistant coach. He is currently on the assistant coach of the Highlanders in Super Rugby and the Tasman Makos in the Mitre 10 Cup.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Filo Tiatia</span> Rugby player

    Filogia Ian "Filo" Tiatia is a New Zealand international rugby union footballer, best known as a back-row forward and occasional lock for Welsh region the Ospreys.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Jamie Joseph</span> New Zealand-born Japanese rugby union player and coach

    James Whitinui Joseph is a New Zealand-born Japanese former rugby union player and current rugby union coach. A flanker, Joseph represented Otago at a provincial level, and was a member of the New Zealand national side, the All Blacks, from 1992 to 1995, before representing Japan in 1999. Joseph, now head coach of the Japanese national side, has coached since his retirement, coming through the ranks in New Zealand before his first national stint.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Southern Kings</span> South African professional rugby team

    The Southern Kings were a South African professional rugby union team that competed in Super Rugby and Pro14. They were based in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape province and played their home matches at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. They were created in 2009, and had their first match against the British & Irish Lions during their 2009 tour. After competing in Super Rugby in 2013, 2016 and 2017, they joined Pro14 prior to the 2017–18 season, along with the Cheetahs.

    The Super Rugby competition in rugby union, including teams from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands and, in the past, from Argentina, Japan and South Africa, is based on a "franchise" system of teams. The original member countries – Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – all have several regional franchises, while the expansion countries – Argentina, Fiji, Japan and the Pacific Islands – have/had one franchise each. The article covers specific detail as to the areas covered by each Super Rugby team. Bold denotes stadiums that are current primary stadiums for the franchises.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Jaguares (Super Rugby)</span> Rugby team

    The Jaguares was an Argentine professional rugby union team based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They were founded in 2015 and are the first Argentine team to play in SANZAAR's Super Rugby competition, participating from the 2016 Super Rugby season onwards. They were the runners up during the 2019 Super Rugby season, losing to the Crusaders 19–3 in the Super Rugby Final, played on July 6, 2019. They participated in Super Rugby until the end of the 2020 Super Rugby season, before they departed the competition having not been named in any of the regionalised formats for the 2021 Super Rugby season. With no competition in sight, players moved to different clubs in Europe and the national group disintegrated.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Shinnosuke Kakinaga</span> Rugby player

    Shinnosuke Kakinaga is a Japanese rugby union player who plays as a prop for Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Yoshiya Hosoda</span> Rugby player

    Yoshiya Hosoda is a Japanese rugby union player who plays as a back row forward.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Koki Yamamoto</span> Japanese rugby union player

    Koki Yamamoto is a Japanese rugby union player who plays as a prop.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Yasutaka Sasakura</span> Rugby player

    Yasutaka Sasakura is a Japanese rugby union player who plays as a fullback or centre.

    Amanaki Lotoahea is a Tongan-born Japanese rugby union footballer who plays as either a fullback or a wing.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Moana Pasifika</span> Rugby union team from various Pacific island nations

    Moana Pasifika is a rugby union team made up of players from various Pacific island nations as well as New Zealand or Australian born players of Pasifika heritage, including Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands.

    References

    1. "Sunwolves axed from Super Rugby after 2020 season". Rugby World. 22 March 2019.
    2. "Sunwolves won't compete in Super Rugby AU". Rugby.com.au. Retrieved 2020-06-10.
    3. ""The Rugby Championship" to replace Tri Nations". rugby.com.au. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
    4. "Super Rugby may accept Argentinian teams in 2016". Guardian. 8 August 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
    5. "Pichot: Argentina in Super Rugby is a no brainer". SuperXV. 23 August 2013. Archived from the original on 17 April 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
    6. "Super Rugby going global". Sydney Daily Telegraph. 11 February 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
    7. "SANZAR boss Greg Peters confirms South Africa will get a sixth Super Rugby franchise from 2016". Herald Sun. 4 September 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
    8. "Search begins for 18th Super Rugby team" (Press release). SANZAR. 2 May 2014. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
    9. "Singapore and Japan still in a race for 18th team". SuperXV. 21 October 2014. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
    10. "Brave Blossoms break into the top ten". Asian Rugby Football Union. 24 June 2014. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
    11. "Super Rugby: Japan chosen to host new franchise from 2016". BBC. 24 October 2014. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
    12. "Japan's entry into Super Rugby is 'dream come true'". JRFU. 20 November 2014. Archived from the original on 19 March 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
    13. "Japan and Argentina officially join Super Rugby" (Press release). SANZAR. 20 November 2014. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
    14. "Eddie Jones lands Super Rugby role". SANZAR. 24 April 2015. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
    15. "Japan rugby coach Jones confirms departure after World Cup". Japan Today. 25 August 2015. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
    16. "Super Rugby set to cut Japanese club from 2016 competition after concerns it won't field side". The Daily telegraph. Fox Sports. 25 August 2015. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
    17. "Japan working to get Super Rugby tasks completed, JRFU executive says". Japan Times. 29 August 2015. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
    18. "Formation of Super Rugby team complete". The Yomiuri Shimbun. The Japan News. 2 September 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
    19. "Japan's Super Rugby participation remains uncertain". Kyodo. The Japan Times. 2 September 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
    20. "Draw released for new era of Super Rugby" (Press release). SANZAR. 28 September 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
    21. "2016 Draw". SANZAR. 28 September 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
    22. 1 2 "Super Rugby welcomes the Sunwolves". SANZAR. 5 October 2015. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
    23. "Name-the-team Contest (Super Rugby from the 2016 Season)". JRFU. 29 May 2015. Archived from the original on 8 July 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
    24. "Japan eyes World Cup heroes for Super Rugby's Sunwolves". The Japan Times. 5 October 2015. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
    25. "Super Rugby Japanese Team SUNWOLVES Team Name & Logo Announcement "HITO-Communications SUNWOLVES"" (Press release). Sunwolves. 15 January 2016. Archived from the original on 5 November 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
    26. "Sunwolves axed from Super Rugby after 2020 season". Rugby World. 22 March 2019.
    27. "2020Squad". Sunwolves. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
    28. "2020Coach". Sunwolves. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
    29. "Mark Hammett named coach of Japan's Super Rugby Sunwolves". The Guardian . December 21, 2015.
    30. "Japan reveals Sunwolves roster; Hammett named as coach". The Japan Times . December 21, 2015.
    31. "Mark Hammett named coach of Japan's Super 15 team". Sky Sports . December 21, 2015.
    32. "Rugby: Former All Black named as Sunwolves head coach". The New Zealand Herald . September 13, 2016.
    33. "Filo Tiatia replaces Mark Hammett as Sunwolves head coach". Sky Sports . September 14, 2016.
    34. "Tiatia named new Sunwolves coach". SBS . September 14, 2016.
    35. "Joseph replaces Tiatia as head coach of Sunwolves". The Japan Times . September 29, 2017.
    36. "Rugby: Joseph takes over from Tiatia as head coach of Sunwolves". Kyodo News . September 29, 2017.
    37. "Japan coach Jamie Joseph will also lead the Sunwolves in Super Rugby". Fox Sports Australia . September 29, 2017.
    38. "Tony Brown Appointed as Head Coach of HITO-Communications SUNWOLVES" (Press release). Sunwolves. 27 September 2018. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
    39. "スーパーラグビー2020シーズン ヘッドコーチ決定のお知らせ" (Press release) (in Japanese). Sunwolves. 30 August 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2019.