Japan Finish Thirteenth in Hong Kong
Hong Kong Sevens 2017
07-09 April 2017, Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong
The 2017 Hong Kong Sevens was round seven of the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
Japan were one of the fifteen core teams in the main draw of the series and they were in Pool C along with Fiji, New Zealand and Wales. South Korea was the sixteenth and final team at the tournament.
A further 12 sides will participated in the qualifying tournament with Spain as the winner accorded core status for next season.
In their opening pool game on Friday, 7 April 2017, the Japanese faced Fiji in their evening match. Fiji as the reigning Hong Kong Sevens champions made short work of Japan with a resounding 36-0 win on the opening day of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens. On Saturday, 8 April, New Zealand beat Japan 40-14 early in the afternoon and then in the evening, Wales beat Japan 34-21 in their third and final Pool C game.
Japan finished fourth in Pool C in Hong Kong and played in the Challenge Trophy for the bottom two teams in each pool on Sunday, 9 April 2017. In the quarterfinals, Japan faced Kenya in the morning with the Africans winning 24-17. The loss to Kenya put Japan into the semi-finals for the thirteenth place play-offs where they faced South Korea. Japan dominated the match to run out 36-7 winners and collect their first victory of the tournament. In the final for thirteenth place, Japan faced Wales for the second time and turned the tables with a 28-21 win. Japan finished thirteenth overall.
After the event, Japan Sevens head coach Damian Karauna commented, “We had a tough pool draw here in Hong Kong, but the final win over Wales has given the players a lot of confidence going forward. We have shown our attack can match it on the world stage, but we still have to close the gap on Russia in the standings. We are looking ahead to Singapore and a place in the Cup tournament.”
Captain Dai Ozawa said, “We were pleased with our win over Wales in the thirteenth place play-off. We lost to Wales in our pool game, so revenge was sweet. Naikabula Jone and Siosifa Lisara were new to the squad, but they both put in big efforts for the team. We finished Hong Kong with two wins and now aim to finish in the top half of our pool in Singapore.”