JRFU Statement on New International Competition Framework

We are delighted with the World Rugby Council’s decision to introduce a new global competition calendar and framework for the men’s and women’s game. The new global calendar will offer our national teams an enhanced development platform by creating greater opportunities to consistently play high-level test match rugby. We welcome and support this decision as a necessary and valuable step to help us achieve our high performance goals to strengthen, promote and broaden rugby’s appeal as outlined in our medium-term strategic plan.

The new global international calendar for women’s rugby will enable many countries to strengthen their programmes through regular competition and is a welcome step in the evolution of women’s rugby here in Japan. The world is seeing the continued growth and development of our Sakura Fifteens, who are currently competing in the newly established WXV competition and the JRFU will continue its strong focus on developing women’s rugby.

In the men’s game, the new framework for international competition from 2026 onwards, involving the Six Nations, SANZAAR and two other teams, will be a great opportunity for Japan to compete with the world’s top teams and as such, Japan is very keen to be involved.

The new Pacific Nations Cup, which will see Canada, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, USA and Japan play each other from next summer, will be extremely beneficial in terms of strengthening our Brave Blossoms and expanding our elite player pool. It is a great honour to be able to compete against the best teams from around the Pacific Rim, especially in front of our fans here in Japan, and we are looking forward to next year’s competition.

It has also been decided that from Rugby World Cup 2027 in Australia, the number of participating teams will increase from 20 to 24, giving more countries and regions, including those in Asia, the opportunity to participate in our sport’s pinnacle global event. The JRFU, together with our Asia Rugby colleagues, will continue to make our best efforts to promote, develop and strengthen rugby across the region.

The growth of rugby into a truly global sport has been witnessed at this year’s Rugby World Cup, with many emerging teams improving their competitiveness on the world stage and expanding their fan base at home and around the world. As a high-performance union, the JRFU will work with other unions to further develop and grow rugby across Japan, Asia, the Pacific Rim, and around the world.

Kensuke Iwabuchi
Japan Rugby Football Union

Kensuke Iwabuchi, Masato Tsuchida