Thursday, May 27, 2010
Japan qualified for the 2011 Rugby World Cup on the weekend after they well and truly thrashed Hong Kong 94-5 to win their third consecutive Asian Five Nations tournament.
They scored 14 tries as they ran riot on their way to the massive win, which sets them up for their seventh consecutive World Cup appearance, in New Zealand next year.
While the game in Japan already has a large following, this win and the qualification for the showpiece of the modern game will provide a further boost to the profile of the sport in the country, and "represents the achievement of a very strategic goal", said the Japan Rugby Football Union chairman.
Coached by legendary All Black wing John Kirwan, Japan are on the up and realising their potential as they bring in new players and fans with their success. "We have achieved our first goal this year which was to qualify for the World Cup," said Kirwan.
"The players have worked very hard and that was our best performance in the competition so far. But there is a long way to go."
They will play in a tough group next year, Pool A, where they will face France, Canada, Tonga, and hosts New Zealand.
"We've got two easy games to start so I am not worried about those," Kirwan joked of the clashes with the All Blacks and France. "Canada and Tonga are at the same level and if we can win these two games we automatically qualify for 2015, so realistically we go out and have a go.
"It's important we keep growing. I want to show the world how much we have improved and I hope we have the courage to play our style of rugby. I have never taken the field to lose a game and won't in New Zealand and I am sure the players feel the same, he added.
Kirwan has ambitious goals for Japan in that he plans to lead them to the top 10 in world rugby next year, the top eight by 2015, and to win the title when they host it in 2019.
Theres no doubt they know how to score tries. Wing Alisi Tupuialei got a hat-trick before the 45-0 halftime score. Enjoy the highlights.
Japan are ranked 13th in the world currently. Are Kirwans goals realistic at this stage?