(Japanese: lang|ja|サンウルブズ) - currently known as the HITO-Communications Sunwolves
for sponsorship reasons - are a professional rugby union team and is Japan 's representative team in SANZAAR 's international Super Rugby competition. The team is based in Tokyo , Japan , but will also play some home matches in Singapore . They made their debut in Super Rugby in 2016.
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 . This led to rumours that Argentina would also seek to have teams included in the Super Rugby competition 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.In 2013, SANZAR CEO Greg Peters announced that Super Rugby would be expanded from the 2016 season onwards, adding that South African franchise the Rut Kings would be one of the expansion teams. In early 2014, SANZAR confirmed that Super Rugby would be increased from 15 to 18 teams starting from the 2016 season, with Argentine side Rut Jaguares getting one of the additional spots. It was confirmed that both Argentina and the 18th team would participate in the South African Conference.Asia emerged as the preferred destination for the final licence and Japan and Singapore emerged as the main contenders to get the franchise. 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 - they were subsequently granted the licence for the 18th franchise in October 2014 - with an agreement reached that Singapore would host three of their home matches each season at the Singapore Sports Hub . The new expanded format and three new teams were formally approved by the SANZAR Executive Committee in November 2014.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. 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 Rut Stormers head coach position. Subsequent media reports stated that governing body SANZAR were exploring alternate plans for the 2016 Super Rugby competition which excluded the Japanese team, 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. The validity of the player list submitted were 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.However, they were included in the Super Rugby fixture list that came out on 28 September 2015 and on 5 October 2015, it was announced that the team would be known as the Sunwolves.
-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. On 5 October 2015, it was announced that the team would be known as the Sunwolves. 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, as was the team's slogan "Break the Line".On 15 January 2016, the Sunwolves announced that they would be known as the HITO-Communications Sunwolves following a sponsorship agreement.
The following table summarises the Sunwolves' results in their Super Rugby seasons:
Legend: C = Champions, R = Runners-up, S = Semi-final appearance, Q = Qualifying final appearance.
| Competition name|| Season|| Played|| Won|| Drawn|| Lost|| Log position|| C|| R|| SF|| QF|| Coach|| Captain|
| Super Rugby || 2016 || In progress || Mark Hammett || Shota Horie |
Sunwolves Last 5 Results
|28 May 2016||Brumbies||66 - 5||Sunwolves|| ||Details|
|27 Feb 2016||Sunwolves||13 - 26||Lions|| ||Details|
|26 Mar 2016||Sunwolves||27 - 30||Bulls|| ||Details|
|23 Apr 2016||Sunwolves||36 - 28||Jaguares|| ||Details|
|21 May 2016||Reds||35 - 25||Sunwolves|| ||Details|
Sunwolves Next 5 Matches
|02 Jul 2016||Sunwolves||vs||Waratahs|| ||Details|
|09 Jul 2016||Bulls||vs||Sunwolves|| ||Details|
|15 Jul 2016||Sharks||vs||Sunwolves|| ||Details|
The Sunwolves will split their eight home matches between Japan and Singapore during the 2016 Super Rugby season . Five home games will be played at Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Tokyo and three home games will be played at Singapore National Stadium.
| Tokyo , Japan || Kallang , Singapore |
| Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium || Singapore National Stadium|
| Capacity: 27,188|| Capacity: 55,000|
| -|| -|
The following final 39-man Sunwolves squad for the 2016 Super Rugby season was announced on 22 February 2016:
| Sunwolves Super Rugby squad|
|Props Takuma Asahara Shohei Hirano Keita Inagaki Shinnosuke Kakinaga Koo Ji-Won Masataka Mikami Koki Yamamoto Hookers Ryuhei Arita Shota Horie (c) Takeshi Kizu Futoshi Mori Locks Tim Bond Yoshiya Hosoda Shinya Makabe Liaki Moli Hitoshi Ono Kazuhiko Usami ||Loose forwards Taiyo Ando Andrew Durutalo Fa'atiga Lemalu Tomás Leonardi Tsuyoshi Murata Ed QuirkScrum-halves Atsushi Hiwasa Daisuke Inoue Kaito Shigeno Yuki Yatomi Fly-halves Tusi Pisi Yu Tamura Harumichi Tatekawa ||Centres Derek Carpenter Mifiposeti Paea Ryohei Yamanaka Wingers Viliami Lolohea John Stewart Akihito Yamada Fullbacks Yasutaka Sasakura Riaan Viljoen Hajime Yamashita |
| (c) Denotes team captain and Bold denotes internationally capped.|
The following coaching team was appointed for the 2016 Super Rugby season :
| Name|| Title|
| Mark Hammett || Head coach|
| Nathan Mauger || Assistant coach (defence and counter attack)|
| Atsushi Tanabe || Assistant coach (backs and skills)|
| Filo Tiatia || Assistant coach (forwards)|