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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Japan beat Hong Kong to win the 2012 Asian Five Nations

Japan won a fifth straight Asian Five Nations championship on the weekend as they ran riot against Hong Kong, beating them 67-0. It was their 20th straight bonus-point win, and they are now aiming to move into the top 10 in world rugby.

Coach Eddie Jones believes the brand of rugby his side are playing could realistically see them being ranked in the top ten of world rugby over the next few years. They scored 11 unanswered tries, putting on a show in front of their home crowd at the Prince Chichibu Stadium.

"That was our best performance of the HSBC Asian Five Nations," said coach Jones, who is honest about where they need to improve ahead of the Pacific Nations Cup, where they will face the physicality of the likes of Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji.

"We need to get far better in the scrum. We don't have the leg strength to scrimmage low. We need to develop a low effective scrum. They have put on muscle and got quicker and with the type of rugby we are playing they are going to get better."

Jones, who was key in Suntory Sungoliath's league and championship double recently, took over as Japan coach as they build towards 2015, and later 2019, when they host the Rugby World Cup.

One of the positives of the current setup is that in the team that played on the weekend, there was only one foreigner, so Japanese rugby is on the up. They are currently ranked 14th in the world.

"I can't fault the players' attitude at all. They are learning really quickly and working very hard. If we are to be one of the top 10 teams in the world then we have to be the hardest working team in the world," he added.

The Pacific Nations Cup kicks of on June 5th, with Japan hosting the first five matches. 

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