Japan qualified for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand with an emphatic 94-5 victory over Hong Kong in the HSBC Asian Five Nations Top Five competition in Tokyo on Saturday.A slick Japanese outfit went on a 14-try rampage in their final game in the qualifying campaign to grab the solitary direct entry for the World Cup given to Asia.
With one foot already in the door, high-flying Japan is confident of sealing its berth at IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 when they take on Hong Kong in their final game of the HSBC Asian Five Nations (HSBC A5N) Top Five competition in Tokyo on Saturday. In the second match of the weekend, Kazakhstan finds itself in the unique position of either finishing as A5N runners-up and entering the cross-continental play-off for RWC 2011 or facing relegation to Division I against Korea.
The Japan team to play Hong Kong on Saturday in the HSBC Asian Five Nations shows three changes and one positional switch from the side that started last week’s 101-7 thumping of Kazakhstan.
Ryu Koliniasi Holani is back at No. 8 after an injury filled 18 months, Alisi Tupuailei is named on the wing and Shinsuke Nakamura starts at tighthead prop as Japan look to finish the A5N off in style and book its spot at next year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
By Mike Rehu, ESPN Star Sports Rugby Commentator and the voice of the Asian 5 Nations
Such is the tight nature of this year’s HSBC Asian 5 Nations Kazakhstan are going into their last game against Korea with the chance to finish second and continue their dream to get to next year’s World Cup. If they can win with aplomb they could go on to Uruguay for a sudden death game. If they lose badly they could plummet to last place and go down to the second tier.
In its last ever international match, the Arabian Gulf Rugby Football Union (AGRFU) bowed out on a historic note beating Korea 21-19 this evening at The Sevens in Dubai. The win is the Arabian Gulf’s second in its HSBC A5N 2010 campaign after beating Hong Kong in Bahrain two weeks ago, and is the first over Korea in its 17-year history of test match rugby. As a testament to the growth of rugby in west Asia, tonight’s historic match opened with a curtain raiser featuring the first ever test between Jordan and Lebanon. Lebanon won on its HSBC Asian 5 Nations debut 27-8.
Former Scotland Head Coach Frank Hadden this week arrived in the UAE as he reached the half way point in his epic HSBC Asian 5 Nations grass roots journey. Hadden and his fellow HSBC Penguins have embarked on a massive 12 country, three month coaching tour of Asia as part of the HSBC Asian 5 Nations tournament.
STAR Sports commentator Mike Rehu is hanging out for some sticky balls.In the three tv games so far in this year’s HSBC Asian 5 Nations, ball retention has been a real problem. Teams have struggled to glue two or three phases together before losing the ball in contact. This has made for a very stop-start series of games, with a symphony of whistling from the refs.
An entertaining weekend of elite Asian rugby in the HSBC Asian 5 Nations (HSBC A5N) has helped clarify the Asian qualification picture for IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 after an emphatic win over the Arabian Gulf by reigning champions Japan and a gritty victory by Hong Kong over nearest chaser Kazakhstan.
STAR Sports commentator Mike Rehu reckons there’s a touch of Town verses Country in this weekend’s HSBC Asian 5 Nations television game.
In the misty halcyon days of provincial rugby history in New Zealand, there was always an annual Town vs Country clash. It was a day on the local rugby calendar where two completely different playing and cultural styles intersected, both parties viewed each other with a touch of suspicion and that once a year clash brought those differences into focus for all to see.
Week three of the HSBC Asian 5 Nations (HSBC A5N) Top 5 competition is fraught with IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 implications (the 2010 HSBC A5N Top 5 competition is serving as the last competition in a three-year, 33-match Rugby World Cup qualification process for Asia). Table leaders Hong Kong host Kazakhstan at the Hong Kong Football Club while the Arabian Gulf, fresh from a historic first ever Top 5 win last week, sees its vaunted defence severely tested against reigning champions Japan in Tokyo.