Japan gets wildcard entry to Singapore 7s


World Rugby revealed on Friday that the Brave Blossoms were officially named as the wild card team in the 16-nation tournament which is scheduled to take place in April.

The reigning Asian Games champions, who secured an automatic berth for the 2016 Rio Olympics by winning the Asia Rugby Sevens Qualifier in Hong Kong in November, joins the 15 core teams - Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Fiji, France, Kenya, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa and Wales - on the World Rugby Sevens Series circuit which stops over in Singapore on 16/17 April.

“The Sevens World Series is the world’s top tournament for sevens sides in terms of speed, power, skill, tactics and game management,” said head coach Tomohiro Segawa in Tokyo.

Rugby and sports fans will no doubt remember Japan’s exploits at last year’s Rugby World Cup in England where they lit up the tournament with three sensational wins including the heart-stopping last-minute 34-32 upset of South Africa.

“Following the success of our 15s side at the Rugby World Cup, now it’s our turn to deliver a message how good Japan rugby is to the world.

“We will play our sevens rugby with pride so that all Japanese who live overseas can be proud of us,” added Segawa

“At the Singapore Sevens, as Asia’s representative in an Asian country, we want to beat the top teams. Argentina was the runner-up at last month’s Cape Town Sevens and Kenya finished among the top four, so we want to qualify for the Cup and our target is a top-four finish in Singapore.”

Among the Japanese Rugby World Cup heroes that have been drafted to the Sevens team is winger Yoshikazu Fujita who scored a memorable try in the 28-18 win over the United States in Japan’s last pool game in England.

Already, the first two legs of the World Rugby Sevens series have seen a few upsets and rugby fans will be hoping that the Japanese sevens squad can spring a surprise or two in Singapore.

In the opening Dubai Sevens last month, the United States clinched a monumental first series win over New Zealand in the group stage and progressed to the quarterfinals where they dumped defending Dubai Sevens champions South Africa out of the tournament.

The USA then stunned New Zealand Sevens 31-12 in the bronze play-off in Dubai.

More upsets were recorded a week later at the Cape Town Sevens as Argentina beat 12-time World Rugby Sevens Series champions New Zealand 22-19 in the quarterfinals and edged out Kenya 24-22 in a thrilling semifinal to qualify for their first series final.

The 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series resumes in Wellington, New Zealand, later this month.

Fiji and South Africa, who finished first and second in last year’s series, are currently joint top on 35 points after the first two rounds.

African News Agency

Original source: Japan gets wildcard entry to Singapore 7s