Japan qualify for RWC 2011

(RUGBY WORLD CUP) Saturday 22 May 2010
Japan qualify for RWC 2011
Japan will join Pool A at RWC 2011

Japan has qualified for Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand after defeating Hong Kong 94-5 in Tokyo in the final round of the HSBC Asian 5 Nations on Saturday.

John Kirwan's will now take their place at the tournament Asia 1 and join Pool A alongside hosts New Zealand, France, Tonga and Canada.

Qualification means that the Brave Blossoms maintain their 100 percent participation record at Rugby's showcase tournament.

Japan required just a bonus point before kick-off at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, but passage was secured as early as the 18th minute when the home team scored the fourth try to secre the all important bonus point.

Alisi Tupuialei got the scoring under way in the second minute and from then on Japan did not look back as the home side got into their stride.

Tupuialei completed his 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.

The try rout continued in the second half with Fumiaki Tanaka, Endo, Shota Horie and Kaoru Matsushita making it 73-0 midway through the half before Mark Wright made the most of a poor kick by James Arlidge to go over for a consolation try for Hong Kong.

Significant milestone

Hong Kong's job got even harder when Rory Hussey was sent to the sin bin in the 61st minute and Japan made the most of their numerical advantage with Hiroki Yuhara and Tomoki Yoshida crossing before Alrlidge rounded-off an impressive team display to make the final score 94-5.

Qualification marks another significant milestone for the Japan Rugby Football Union, who are planning in earnest to host Rugby World Cup 2019.

"Qualification for Rugby World Cup 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, the IOC Rugby Sevens decision and the IRB Tours schedule will provide the framework for the sport to continue to grow in popularity, profile and participation across the country and in Asia."

Kazakhstan keep dream alive

Kazakhstan will progress to the cross-continental play-off after collecting the all-important bonus point in a 32-25 victory away against Korea, albeit only thanks to Anton Rudoy's 76th minute try.

The result means that Kazakhstan pip Hong Kong to second to keep their RWC 2011 dreams alive and will now face Uruguay in July. The winners of that match will progress to the play-off final against the winners of Romania or Ukraine v Tunisia.

The play-off final winners will take their place in Pool B alongside Argentina, England, Scotland and Georgia, completing the Rugby World Cup 2011 qualifying process as the 20th and final team.

Rudoy's crucial try completed his second hat-trick in three matches in this year's Asian 5 Nations and saw off the challenge of a Korean side that had started the match on fire with tries from Kim Gwong Sik, Choi Si Won and You Young Nam to lead 17-0 in Incheon.

Kazakhstan's star flanker got his side on the board with his first try in the 19th minute, but it was the hosts - bidding for a first victory in this year's competition - who went in leading 20-13 at half time.

Relegation looms for Korea

Park Soon Chai increased that advantage, but Rudoy crossed again within minutes and Kazakhstan took the lead for the first time when Maxim Lifontov converted Ildar Abdrazakov's try.

The match remained on a knife edge until Rudoy crossed over for his third of the game, one which sends Kazakhstan to Uruguay in July for the first stage of the RWC 2011 play-off. The winner of this match will face either Tunisia or the Romania v Ukraine winner in November.

Japan ended the Top 5 with a perfect 24 points with Kazakhstan second with 13 points, one more than Hong Kong. The Arabian Gulf, who will be replaced by the newly formed United Arab Emirates Rugby Association in next year's Top 5 competition, finished fourth with 10 points 10 points.

Korea's loss to Kazakhstan means they will be replaced in the Top 5 next year by Sri Lanka, champions of the 2010 Division I tournament. Korea's relegation is an unprecedented development for the traditional counterweights to Japan in Asian rugby's pecking order and heralds increasing parity amongst the region's non-professional teams.

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