Japan qualify for JWRT 2013

(IRB.COM) Monday 6 August 2012
 Japan qualify for JWRT 2013
Japan will represent Asia at the Junior World Rugby Trophy for the fourth successive year in 2013

Japan will be hoping it will be a case of fourth time lucky for them after winning the Asian regional qualifier in Hong Kong over the weekend to take their place at the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2013 in Chile.

The Japanese have lost the last three JWRT finals, the most recent a 37-33 loss to hosts USA on 30 June, but earned another shot at the title and with it promotion to the IRB Junior World Championship after overcoming Hong Kong, Korea and Thailand to win the Asian Junior Championship.

Japan had begun the four-team tournament in impressive fashion with a 50-12 win over Korea, wing Takesahi Ogino scoring a first half hat-trick as Atsushi Yumoto, Ryo Nakano and Kazuhiro Goya (2) also crossed the line. 

Goya came on to contribute 18 points in the victory and earn a starting berth against Thailand. He would repay his coaches with a 19-point haul this time, scoring one try and converting seven of Japan's tries in a 69-0 win at Kings Park.

This time it was full back Yuya Taka who claimed the hat-trick, with prop Genki Sudo, second row Wataru Kobayashi, captain Yusho Takeda, wing Okino (2) and replacements Joji Sato and Keita Suzuki also breaching the Thai defence.

The two victories left Japan needing to beat their hosts on Saturday to claim Asia's place at JWRT 2013, but it was Hong Kong who established an 11-0 lead just past the half hour mark with two penalties by captain Mike Harman and Flynn Kennedy's try.

Sato cut the deficit with a try just before half time and Japan moved out to 21-11 just before the hour mark after tries from Takuya Yamasawa and Hideaki Suzuki. Hong Kong battled bravely but could only manage two late Harman penalties to go down 21-17 and finish third in the standings.  

Korea claimed second place after bouncing back from the opening loss to Japan to upset Hong Kong, who will host JWRT 2014, with a 29-12 victory on day two thanks to tries from Song Hyunseok, Mun Jeongho, captain Ho Hyunseok and Han Sanghoon.

They followed this up with a 26-10 victory over Thailand on the final, outscoring their opponents by three to one to condemn the winless Thais to relegation to Division 2 of the Asian Junior Championship next year.

Japan will join hosts Chile and Italy, the side relegated from this year's IRB Junior World Championship in South Africa, at JWRT 2013 with the five other places to be filled through regional qualification tournaments, the next of which takes place in Africa later this month.