April 10 (Reuters) - The Japan Rugby Football Union on Monday welcomed the Sunwolves’ switch to Super Rugby’s Australian conference next season, saying the club will benefit from shorter flights and less disruptive changes in time zones.
Super Rugby’s governing body, SANZAAR, has said that the Sunwolves will move from one of the Africa conferences to the Australian franchise.
“We will continue competing in one of the toughest competitions in the world of rugby, however, we will do so in a slightly better environment regarding the time difference and the long distance travel,” JRFU chairman Noriyuki Sakamoto said in a statement.
The JRFU has said the 2017-18 Top League season will end earlier to give the Sunwolves more time to prepare.
SANZAAR has said three teams, one from Australia and two from South Africa, would be axed from Super Rugby as the mainly southern hemisphere competition reverts to 15 teams for next season due to falling revenues and fan interest.
Australian Rugby Union sides Western Force or Melbourne Rebels will be axed from Super Rugby next season, while the ARU has said that ACT Brumbies, champions in 2001 and 2004, are no longer at risk of being dropped.
South African Rugby has begun “internal consultations” over which teams it will cut. The Port Elizabeth-based Kings and Bloemfontein side the Cheetahs are most vulnerable. (Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Lough)