Rugby-Sunwolves unlikely to spark Asian growth, says rights holder
By Patrick Johnston
SINGAPORE, March 2 (Reuters) - The Sunwolves entry into Super Rugby is unlikely to grow the game around Asia, according to the sport's new rights owner in the region who believes showcasing more local action online will have a greater impact.
The Tokyo-based franchise, who will also play matches in Singapore, begun the Southern Hemisphere competition with a 26-13 home defeat by South Africa's Lions on Saturday after a tumultuous pre-season trying to assemble a team.
The expansion into Asia is expected to increase the revenues of tournament organisers SANZAAR but New Zealander Tim Martin, who has scooped up the rights to show Super Rugby matches in 23 Asian countries, wondered what else a Japanese entrant brought.
"I don't think the Sunwolves will do a huge amount for Asian rugby," he told Reuters in an interview in Singapore this week after securing the rights deal.
"I think they will do a lot for Japanese rugby but they won't do a lot for Malaysian rugby. I don't see how those dots join."
Martin, a former advertising executive, made waves when his Coliseum Sports Media snapped up the rights to show English Premier League soccer matches in New Zealand using his online platform in 2013.
He took a bold leap then for a fledgling start-up - albeit backed by a U.S.-based billionaire - but believed Japan would have been better off taking a conservative approach to growing the game after the World Cup win over South Africa last year.
"Why leap into Super Rugby, which is the hardest, most competitive rugby competition in the world? Continuación...