Rugby Australia (RA) and the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) have today signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
The MOU will be in place until 2029, with the objective of building a stronger relationship between the two Unions, and developing national teams, competitions, players, staff, and the sport of Rugby itself in each nation.
As two of the largest Member Unions in the Asia-Pacific region, the Parties will work together to identify areas of common interest in order to secure better outcomes individually and collectively.
Reflecting the strong strategic and economic relationship in place between the two countries, the RA-JRFU partnership will also see Rugby become a platform for the two nations to further advance the strong government-to-government diplomatic, tourism and trade links, including around Expo 2025 in Osaka.
The agreement will see the two nations focus on developing opportunities for annual pre-season or post-season tours, competitions or matches between professional clubs at Super Rugby and Japan Rugby League One level – something that we will see more of later this year.
Player development will be a key focus, with the two unions to identify opportunities for annual player exchanges (male and female) between clubs and competitions – as well as providing opportunities for similar exchanges between coaches and highperformance staff.
Women’s Rugby will form a key pillar of the ongoing partnership, with a commitment to schedule international fixtures and opportunities for emerging teams, as well as promoting engagement between teams from Japan and Australia’s Super W competition.
The two sides will aim to schedule Wallaroos-Japan Test matches between 2024 and 2026.
Men’s teams will also benefit, with a plan to schedule Australia A and Wallabies matches with Japan in 2024 and 2025.
RA and JRFU will also aim to develop annual competitions and fixtures between U18, U20, and other age grades, as well as state, prefecture and schools representative teams across XVs and Sevens Rugby.
Rugby Australia CEO, Phil Waugh said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for our two great nations to strengthen the ties that we already share – not only in Rugby, but across trade, tourism and diplomacy. We have seen tremendous growth in Japanese Rugby in recent years, and it is an exciting time for us to be more actively working within the region on growing the game in Australia and Japan. In years to come, we will see more Australian sides playing Japan at home and away, from junior pathways to Test level across both the men’s and women’s game, as well as having our Super Rugby sides playing more games against Japan Rugby League One sides.”
JRFU Chairman, Kensuke Iwabuchi said: “Japan Rugby and Rugby Australia have enjoyed a long and friendly relationship while developing rugby in the Asia Pacific region and we are honoured to be strengthening our partnership now, and for the future. We hope to further accelerate the growth of Japanese Rugby through our close association with Australian Rugby, which has one of the world's most popular national teams in the Wallabies, and is constantly innovating in the business of sport.”