Japan eye glory at HSBC World Rugby Sevens
Following World Cup upset of Springboks, Asian champs eye similar feat in S'pore event
Their 15s side made headlines at last year's Rugby World Cup in the United Kingdom, where they upset two-time world champions South Africa 34-32 in their first Pool B game.
This year, Japan are aiming for another major feat, this time in the Singapore leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens on April 16 and 17 at the National Stadium.
The Brave Blossoms, who join the tournament's 15 core teams as a wildcard side, are aiming for an unprecedented top-four finish in the Republic, following encouraging upsets in the first two legs of the 10-stop series.
In the opening leg in Dubai last month, the United States beat rugby giants New Zealand 14-12, and South Africa 21-19.
New Zealand, 12-time winners of the World Rugby Seven Series, also fell 24-12 and 22-19 to Canada and Argentina respectively in the following leg in Cape Town last month, before losing their last match 28-14 to the US.
BEAT THE BEST
Tomohiro Segawa, head coach of the Brave Blossoms, said: "At the Singapore Sevens, as Asia's representatives in an Asian country, we want to beat the top teams.
"Argentina were the runners-up at last month's Cape Town Sevens and Kenya finished among the top four, so we want to qualify for the Cup and our target is a top-four finish in Singapore.
"Following the success of our 15s side at the Rugby World Cup, now it's our turn to deliver the message about how good Japan rugby is to the world.
"We will play our Sevens rugby with pride, so that all Japanese who live overseas can be proud of us."
The Asian champions are bound for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August, where Rugby Sevens will be making its debut in the quadrennial Games.
For the Singapore Sevens, Segawa has drafted in winger Yoshikazu Fujita, who scored a memorable try in the 28-18 win over the United States in Japan's last group game in England.
"Being Asia's only representatives in the World Sevens Series, Japan will definitely enjoy the support of many rugby fans and the Japanese expatriate community in Singapore," added Sam Chan, general manager of Rugby Singapore, the commercial arm of the Singapore Rugby Union.
"We also hope Japanese supporters across Asia will visit Singapore to support their rugby team.
"As host of the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Olympics, I believe Japan will want to impress the world with their on-field performances."
Season pass prices range from $2 to $150, and family packages, which admit two adults and two children, are available at $405.
Fans can buy tickets and find more information at www.singapore7s.sg.