Rugby: Japan hopes to name coach by end of year

Jamie Joseph
Jamie Joseph
The Japan Rugby Football Union wants to have its new head coach - thought to be Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph - named by the end of the year.

Joseph has been rumoured to be in negotiations with the Japanese union and the Highlanders to be the next coach for the national team.

A meeting of the Japan Rugby Football Union board on Thursday was originally set down to decide the new coach but no coach was named, Kyodo News reported.

The candidate was discussed at the meeting but no name was put forward after the meeting.

The Japan Rugby Football Union announced on Thursday that the process of securing the next national team coach was in the final stages, it was reported.

‘‘We put his name forward [at the meeting] and spoke about him,'' said JRFU executive director Noriyuki Sakamoto.

‘‘Our plan is to have a decision by the end of the year.''

Joseph is contracted to the Highlanders until the end of next season and is said to have been working through the processes to enable him to be the next coach of the Cherry Blossoms.

The 46-year-old has both played and coached in Japan and actually played for Japan at the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

The Highlanders declined comment on the coaching situation this week. When approached on Thursday, Joseph declined to comment, while Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark said the organisation did not comment on speculation.

The sticking point centres around when Joseph could leave to go and coach Japan, given he is signed with the Highlanders to the end of the season, which potentially could go through until August next year.

Japan has two test matches against Scotland set for the middle of June.

The position of head coach of Japan is not the only coaching issue surrounding the sport in the country.

With the expanded Super rugby competition due to kick off in just over two months, the side, the Sunwolves, does not have a coach.

The Kyodo News said the organisation in Japan running the Super rugby team had stated it wanted to name some players and the coach this Monday, but Sakamoto said the head coach was yet to be signed.‘‘When at last he puts pen to paper, we will make an announcement,'' Sakamoto said.

The Sunwolves coach is expected to be former Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett.

Hammett had returned to New Zealand after a short stint coaching the Cardiff Blues and was lined up to be the assistant coach for Tasman next season.

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