From January 2022, the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) will introduce a new format to its professional league. Here are some of the details:
- Currently, the format is played in two divisions – the Top League consisting of 16 teams, and the Top Challenge League consisting of 9 teams.
- The new format – still consisting of 25 teams – will be split into 3 divisions with 12 teams in the top division instead of 16.
- The top division will be split into 2 conferences, with the winner of each conference playing each other in a final.
- There will be a promotion-relegation system where division winners will move up to a higher division while teams coming last in their divisions will move to a lower division.
- The rugby season will begin in January so that it will be easier for top Japanese teams to play rugby games against teams from New Zealand, Australia, and the Pacific Island nations.
These changes are in response to Japan’s recent world cup performances. The aim is to increase the competitiveness of local rugby while also exposing top Japanese rugby players to more international competition.