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Japan needs to be land of the rising standards

Brendan Fanning


Numbers heading East are growing but company men may not be ready when the fully professional league gets started

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RG Snyman enjoyed his time in Japan both at club level and at last year's World Cup with South Africa before moving to Munster. Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

RG Snyman enjoyed his time in Japan both at club level and at last year's World Cup with South Africa before moving to Munster. Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Getty Images

RG Snyman enjoyed his time in Japan both at club level and at last year's World Cup with South Africa before moving to Munster. Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

When Greig Laidlaw was a wee lad running around Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders he would tell anyone who would listen about where his rugby career was headed. "When I grow up I'm gonna play rugby for the NTT Shining Arcs!" he would declare. "In Japan!"

We may have that slightly askew. It's more likely Laidlaw's ambition was to be a star first with Jed-Forest and then Scotland. And the fact that he saw service across 245 first class games with Edinburgh, Gloucester and Clermont in between the two was no harm. Pile on 75 caps for his country and that's more than the average man could manage in his wildest dreams. He deserves a spin in Japan.

Laidlaw looked happy enough last week to be making the announcement. So did Beauden Barrett who will be squeezing Suntory Sungoliath into his match plan between finishing the Super Rugby season in Auckland and picking up his All Black career again next year. He will be able to catch up with Brodie Retallick, and a growing band of Europeans.