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Japan qualify for 2015 Rugby World Cup

IRB

rugbyworldcup.com     26 May 2014     IRB

The Brave Blossoms defeated Hong Kong 49-8 in front of a bumper 40,000 crowd in the top of the table clash at the National Stadium in Tokyo.

Japan join Pool B at England 2015 alongside 1995 and 2007 winners South Africa, Samoa, Scotland and USA and will play their opening match against South Africa at the Brighton Community Stadium on September 19.

After nervy opening exchanges, Japan raced into a 27-3 half-time lead with four tries, showing their desire to play an open and expansive game.

However, the Brave Blossoms did not have it all their own way and a spirited Hong Kong made it difficult for the home side in the second half, scoring the first try through Tom McQueen and impressing in defence.

The final quarter saw the home side stretch their legs with tries from Shinya Makabe, former sumo wrestler Takeshi Kizu, Keisuke Uchida and Yoshikazu Fujita's third of the match to make sure of the win, the championship and a place at England 2015.

It was fitting that Japan’s qualification was sealed at the National Stadium – the venue that will play host to the opening match of Rugby World Cup 2019 after it is rebuilt.

Head coach Eddie Jones said: “It was a difficult game, but I was pleased with how we finished the match as we showed patience and discipline.”

“It was a beautiful ending to one of the most iconic venues in Japan and we are privileged to have played in the final match at the National Stadium in front of such a large crowd.”

“We want to make the quarter-finals at England 2015 and we are preparing to achieve that goal.”

Japan sealed their place in the presence of the Webb Ellis Cup. The iconic trophy was in Tokyo on the first stop of the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour which will see Rugby’s most coveted prize visit 15 countries over the next 12 months as part of a celebration of Rugby in the lead up to Rugby World Cup 2015.

The dream is not over for Hong Kong, who, as runners-up in the Asian 5 Nations, now progress to the Repechage where they will face Uruguay.