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New Japanese League to be Set Up

A new Japanese rugby league is in the pipeline which could cause major problems for the Southern Hemisphere’s power countries

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(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Japanese Rugby Football Union vice-president Katsuyuki Kiyomiya has confirmed that plans are being put in place for a new domestic league in the country to continue the rise of the sport in Japan.

Kiyomiya spoke to Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei and explained how the national team’s rise in the sport, which has seen them reach the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup, has aided them with their decision to put together a new league come 2021. 

“This World Cup is a big event Japanese rugby has not experienced before and we are tested on how we take the excitement and enthusiasm created by this event to the next level. Now is the chance to start a professional league, which enables Japanese spectators to see star players in the World Cup 2019 playing at first hand, right in front of their eyes,” he said. 

The vice-president confirmed that they would hold a press conference on November the 18th where they will discuss the plans and ambitions for the new competition which they say will run from August to January each year. 

This schedule could cause tensions between the clubs in Japan and the Southern Hemisphere nations as their players could sign on for the season in Japan while also playing Super Rugby but that would mean that they could miss their international games. 

Kiyomiya believes that this new league would bring in annual revenues of around 50 billions yen which would allow the league and its teams to compete with the financial power of European leagues such as the Top 14 in France. 

The fear for the likes of countries like New Zealand would be that their players may use their contracts, which allow for a move to Japan before returning home, to go play in the new league while missing the international season. 

Worries will be there for the likes of Beauden Barrett and Brodie Retallick signing new contracts this year will provide for a sabbatical in Japan which could cause major problems.

The new league would replace the current Top League which contains 16 teams with the proposed new league reducing to 12 teams. 

All of Australia, South Africa and New Zealand have already faced struggles when it comes to keeping their star names and this would add further complications to that big problem. 

We will have to wait and see what happens over the next couple of months but not only could we see countries finding it hard to get players to play internationally if the league goes ahead but for Super Rugby players it could lead to them becoming burned out as they try to play all year round between the two leagues. However, it would allow the Japanese players to continue to improve as they mix among the world’s best.


Premiership

Sharks sign respected Full-back on 1 year deal

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Former Gloucester full-back Jason Woodward joins Sale Sharks ahead of 2022/23 Premiership season 

Sale Sharks have signed versatile full-back Jason Woodward on a one-year deal ahead of the 2022/23 Gallagher Premiership season. 

The former Bristol Bears and Gloucester man, who can also play on the wing and in the centre, put pen to paper today and will join Alex Sanderson’s squad ahead of their opening pre-season clash against Caldy RFC on August 19. 

Jason signed for Bristol from Super Rugby side the Hurricanes in 2016, before joining Gloucester the following year after Bristol’s relegation from the Premiership. He went on to make made 67 appearances and score 90 points for the Cherry and Whites. 

The 32-year-old represented New Zealand at U20 level but qualifies for England through his grandmother and was called into a training camp by Eddie Jones in 2017. 

Sharks Director of Rugby Alex Sanderson said: “After speaking with Jason it was clear he was still motivated to perform at the highest level, and he was keen for a move North to join the Sharks. 

“Jason is a proven Premiership performer who will add a great deal of quality and experience to what is a young squad here.  

“He has the ability to play in a number of positions and that’s a massive bonus for us with such a busy schedule ahead. 

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby


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International

RFU Council votes in favour of change to gender participation policy

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Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images
Press release issued by Rugby Football Union
 
  • The RFU Council has approved a new gender participation policy following extensive stakeholder consultation and thorough review of all available scientific evidence
  • New policy takes a precautionary approach by prioritising safety of players
  • RFU promoting opportunities for everyone to participate in rugby offering a range of formats and ways to get involved along with a confidential helpline 
  • RFU committed to working with World Rugby and UK Sports Councils to ensure further research is conducted and to reviewing the policy on a regular basis

Following an extensive RFU consultation, the RFU Council has voted in favour of updating its gender participation policy for rugby in England from the start of the 2022/23 season with 33 in favour, 26 against and 2 abstaining.

The RFU began a detailed review of its policy in Autumn 2020, this included a game wide survey receiving over 11,000 responses, extensive consultation with and listening to a wide range of independent experts as well as considering all available scientific evidence along with liaising with other sporting bodies.

The review and consultation concluded that detailed peer reviewed research provides evidence that there are physical differences between those people whose sex originally recorded as male and those as female at birth, and advantages in strength, stamina and physique brought about by testosterone and male puberty are significant and retained even after testosterone suppression. 
This science provides the basis of the new gender participation policy that concludes the inclusion of trans people originally recorded male at birth in female contact rugby cannot be balanced against considerations of safety and fairness.

The RFU Council has determined that until such time as new further peer-reviewed science is available, a precautionary approach is appropriate to ensure fair competition and safety of all competitors. Therefore, the RFU Council approved a policy change to only permit players in the female category if the sex originally recorded at birth is female. 

The RFU recognises this was a complex and difficult decision and the policy change was not taken lightly or without thorough and full research and consultation.  Speaking about the decision, RFU President, His Honour Jeff Blackett said: “I would like to thank everyone for the passion, time and effort that has been put in to consulting with us and informing this policy review.  Inclusion is at the heart of rugby values and we will continue to work with everyone to keep listening, learning and finding ways to demonstrate there is a place for everyone in our game.  We know that many will be disappointed by this decision however, it has been based on all the scientific evidence available.  Our game can be strengthened by everyone who is involved; be it in coaching, refereeing, administration or supporting and playing non-contact forms of the game.”

The RFU also considered the merits of a case-by-case assessment process, but in light of the research findings and work of World Rugby and the UK Sports Councils, and given the difficulties in identifying a credible test to assess physiological variables, this is no longer a viable option at this time and does not necessarily ensure inclusion.   World Rugby has a dedicated funding stream for research in this area and the RFU will continue to work with World Rugby and other stakeholders in promoting research to continue.

In the male category, players whose sex recorded at birth is female may play if they provide their written consent and a risk assessment is carried out.

The RFU is committed to supporting and encouraging opportunities for everyone to participate in rugby including non-contact formats of the game and through coaching, refereeing or volunteering roles.  If anyone would like to find out more about how rugby can be inclusive to them and would like to get involved they can contact the RFU via [email protected] . For anyone who wants advice on mental-wellbeing please see this link. 
  
The RFU has contacted the registered trans women players, who the revised policy has a direct impact on, to offer its support in continuing to encourage them to participate in the sport. The RFU will continue to listen and review its policy on a regular basis and welcomes all new research on this subject to inform these reviews.

For further information on the review please click here:
RFU Gender Participation Policy – frequently asked questions
RFU Gender Participation video


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Premiership

Joe Simpson joins the Sharks Family!

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Sale Sharks have signed former England scrum-half Joe Simpson on a short-term contract ahead of the 2022/23 Gallagher Premiership season.

The former Wasps and Gloucester man, who has one England cap and was part of his country’s squad for the 2011 World Cup, has put pen to paper on a six-month deal.

Joe made almost 250 appearances for Wasps after graduating from their academy in 2008, before joining Gloucester in 2019.

He had loan spells at both Saracens and Bath Rugby last season, but after being released from his contract at Kingsholm, he has joined up with Alex Sanderson’s squad for pre-season ahead of a busy Gallagher Premiership and Heineken Champions Cup campaign.

And the Sharks Director of Rugby says that with Raffi Quirke and Will Cliff currently sidelined with injuries, the 34-year-old will be a massive addition to the club on and off the field

Alex said: “We felt that we were short of a bit of experience in the scrum-half position and Joe brings that in abundance. He’s a proven performer who’s played at the very highest level for the past decade and more and we’re sure he will be a brilliant addition to what is a very young squad.

“Everyone who has worked with Joe speaks really highly of him in terms of his leadership off the field so we’re really excited to see what he can do here. Joe’s experience will be invaluable for our young players like Raffi, Gus Warr and Nye Thomas.”

Joe Simpson has been one of the Premiership’s most consistent performers over the past decade.

At international level, he represented England at U19 and U20 level, taking part in the inaugural Junior World Championship in Wales in 2008, as well as playing for the Sevens and Saxons teams.

Joe made his full debut for England during the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand when he replaced Ben Youngs during a pool stage clash with Georgia.

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby


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