The Top League is a professional rugby league created by the Japan Rugby Football Union to drive up the overall standard and popularity of the sport in the country and improve the results of the Japan national rugby union team. The first season was 2003–04 and featured 12 teams. From the 2006–07 season, the league was expanded to include 14 teams like SANZAR's then Super Rugby and France's Top 14.
The chief architect of the league was Hiroaki Shukuzawa who strongly felt the urgency of improving Japanese domestic company rugby to a professional level which would allow Japan to compete more convincingly at Rugby World Cups. Many full-time foreign professionals (mainly from Australia and New Zealand) have played in the Top League, notably Tony Brown and George Gregan. In the 2010s, salaries in the Top League have risen to become some of the highest in the rugby world; in 2012, South Africa's Jaque Fourie, now with Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers, was widely reported to be the world's highest-paid player.
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—William Shakespeare (15641616)
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—Bible: Hebrew, Job 5:19-23.