Japan qualify for 2011 Rugby World Cup

Japan qualified for the 2011 Rugby World Cup when they thrashed Hong Kong 94-5 to secure top place in the Asian Five Nations tournament on Saturday.


It will be the seventh straight World Cup for Japan, who join hosts New Zealand, France, Tonga and Canada in Pool A of next year’s showpiece.


It was also their third straight victory in the Asian Five Nations.


Kazakhstan, meanwhile, collected an all-important bonus point in beating South Korea 32-25 to qualify for World Cup play-offs.


The result meant the Kazaks pipped Hong Kong to second place in the standings to keep alive their dreams of making next year’s tournament.


It sets them up for a crunch encounter against Uruguay in July, with the winner of that match progressing to the play-off final against the winners of Romania or Ukraine v Tunisia.


Whoever gets through will be in Pool B of the World Cup, alongside Argentina, England, Scotland and Georgia.


Japan, the only Asian country to have played in the World Cup, started the game with a six-point lead over Hong Kong and needed only one more point to secure top place in the tournament and with it automatic qualification.


John Kirwan’s men achieved their goal with ease at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, securing their passage as early as the 18th minute when the home team scored their fourth try to bag the all-important extra point.


Alisi Tupuailei got the scoring under way in the second minute and from then on Japan didn’t look back.


Tupuailei completed a hat-trick within the half hour and further five-pointers from Kosuke Endo, Ryu Koliniasi Holani, Shaun Webb handed Japan an impressive 45-0 lead at half time.


In the end, scrumhalf Fumiaki Tanaka and Endo scored two tries, while seven different players were also on target.


Hong Kong’s Mark Wright made the most of a poor kick by James Arlidge to go over for a consolation try for the visitors.


Kriwan said he was “very, very happy” about his team qualifying for the World Cup.


We trained very hard for six weeks and everybody concentrated 100 percent each day,” Kirwan said.


“We took the ticket to the World Cup and also won the Asian Five Nations… We played probably the best performance in the tournament today.”


Hong Kong coach Dai Rees said: “We came up against a superior Japanese team today. They’ve improved considerably since last year.


They stand alone in the Asian rugby.” Qualification marks another significant milestone for Japan, which will host the 2019 World Cup.


“Qualification for 2011 represents the achievement of a very important strategic goal for the union and will provide a further boost to the profile of the game in Japan,” said Japan Rugby Football Union chairman Nobby Mashimo.


“The awarding of Rugby World Cup 2019 to Japan… will provide the framework for the sport to continue to grow in popularity, profile and participation across the country and in Asia.”


 

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