Japan men win Olympic ticket

HONG KONG (Nov. 8) – Japan’s men’s sevens team qualified for the Rio Olympics on Sunday beating Hong Kong 24-10 in the final of the Asia Rugby Sevens Qualifier 2015.

Tomohiro Segawa’s men had to call on all their experience as they were forced to overcome a 10-0 halftime deficit.

Hosts Hong Kong produced as good a 10 minutes of rugby as they were capable of, upsetting the Japanese rhythm, forcing a number of mistakes and having the edge at the breakdown.

Alexander McQueen and Max Woodward both scored to have the locals in the crowd of 10,000 dreaming of a trip to Brazil next year.

“The noise of the crowd meant we had trouble communicating and couldn’t do what we wanted to do,” said Segawa. “We gave away those scores and started to panic a little.”

But with his team starting again from scratch they put aside the first 10 minutes and were eventually too good and too strong for Hong Kong.

Teruya Goto, Lemeki Lomano, Kazuhiro Goya and Katsuyuki Sakai all crossed the whitewash, with Sakai adding two conversions.

“It hasn’t really sunk in,” said Lote Tuqiri, when asked what winning a ticket to the Olympics meant.

On a good night for Japanese rugby, the Sakura Sevens won the women’s competition beating Kazakhstan 22-0 in the final.

The women’s tournament is a two-legged affair but the victory and watching the men book their ticket should hopefully inspire them to repeat the win when the tournament moves to Tokyo on Nov. 28-29.

Mifuyu Koide crossed in the third minute and Japan never looked back as they dominated possession and territory.

Chiharu Nakamura and Marie Yamaguchi then added tries and Yume Okuroda banged over a conversion as Japan led 17-0 at the break.

A second try by Yamaguchi sealed the win, much to the joy of a large number of traveling and ex-pat Japanese fans.

“I want to be like the men and go to Rio,” said Chisato Yokoo.