Sakura Fifteen Qualify for WXV2 and RWC2025, Fiji Tour Announced

Following their dominant performance at the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship 2024 in Hong Kong, the Japan Women’s National Team, the Sakura Fifteen have qualified for this year’s WXV2 tournament in South Africa and Rugby World Cup 2025 in England.

The news follows Japan’s 10-try, 64-0 win over Kazakhstan on Monday, May 27 at Kings Park Sports Ground in Hong Kong and comes after their 12-29 defeat five days earlier of hosts, Hong Kong China. The two wins see Japan claim their sixth Asia Rugby Women’s Championship, along with booking their tickets to Cape Town this September for WXV2 and next year for their sixth Rugby World Cup.

Commenting after their match against Kazakhstan, Sakura Fifteen Head Coach, Lesley McKenzie said:
“The girls prepared well to get to this point. They showed some really good intent at the forwards camps at Japan Base in Fukuoka, which was matched by the backs when they came into camp following the domestic sevens. We also had a joint training with Hong Kong China at Japan Base and benefited in that they gave us a really strong challenge here in Hong Kong.

“We’re really pleased to have booked our place at the Rugby World Cup in England and for Cape Town with WXV2, so it’s been a really productive few months for us. Thank you to everyone for your support and please continue to get behind the team as we look forward to playing test rugby at home in Japan as well.”

Sakura Fifteen Captain, Iroha Nagata added:
“We’re delighted to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2025 in England and this year’s WXV2. For the Sakura Fifteen, this tournament was our road to the World Cup, with victory required to achieve that goal. We will continue striving to raise our standards by increasing the power of our defence and attack. Thank you for your continued support.”

While Japan has been crowned Asia Rugby Champions 2024, Kazakhstan and Hong Kong China will play this Saturday, June 1 at Hong Kong Football Club to decide the final standings of the tournament.

In further Sakura Fifteen news, it has been announced that they will tour Fiji for a two-test series from June 7 to 21. With Fiji having toured Japan for the first time in 2023, this year’s tour marks a reciprocal visit by the Japanese National Women’s team to the pacific nation.

The first test match will take place at HFC Stadium in the Fijian capital Suva on 14 June, followed by the second match at Churchill Park, Lautoka on 20 June. Both fixtures kick off at 18:00 local time, 15:00 Japan Standard Time (JST).

Japan have faced Fiji in four previous test matches and currently enjoy a 100% win record against the pacific islanders. While Japan recorded a solid 55-0 win in their first encounter during their Rugby World Cup qualifier in 2016, results have been a lot closer over the following three matches with both fixtures last year having just a five-point margin in favour of Japan.

The Sakura Fifteen will be expecting a far sterner challenge playing Fiji at home in what will likely be hot and humid conditions. Furthermore, many of the Fijian team will likely be drawn from the Fijiana Drua team that came runners-up in this year’s Super W competition in Australia. This consistent exposure to high-level competition will likely translate to a highly competitive Fijian national side.

Japan vs Fiji Past Results
16 September 2023 (W) 41-36 Tokyo  
10 September 2023 (W) 29-24 Fukuoka
1 May 2022 (W) 28-14 Gold Coast
13 December 2016 (W) 55-0 Hong Kong