Japan target glory at Singapore Sevens
It was a stellar 2016 for Japan's rugby 7s team who claimed promotion to the HSBC World Sevens Series as a core team after winning the Hong Kong Sevens qualifier.
At last August's Rio Olympics, Japan stunned world champions New Zealand 14-12 in their opening pool match before eventually finishing fourth.
Encouraged by their results last year and buoyed by a new head coach in Kiwi Damian Karauna, the Japan 7s team will be counting on crowd support at the 2017 HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens in April to land their first HSBC World Sevens Series medal.
Last month, Japan appointed former All Black Karauna to spearhead their 7s programme before the 2016-17 HSBC World Sevens Series kicked off in Dubai.
The 41-year-old also served as an assistant and skills coach with the All Blacks Sevens team from 2012 to last year.
At last month's season-opening Dubai Sevens, Japan fielded a vastly different squad from the one that finished fourth in Rio and lost all five games against Australia, Kenya, France, Argentina and Uganda.
A week later in Cape Town, Japan again finished joint-15th, losing all their five games against Fiji, France, Kenya, Argentina and Uganda.
Following Wellington (Jan 28-29) and Sydney (Feb 4-5), the HSBC World Sevens Series moves to Las Vegas and Vancouver in March, before the Asian swing of Hong Kong (April 7-9) and Singapore (April 15-16).
Karauna is optimistic of emulating last year's champions Kenya in clinching their first series win at the Singapore Sevens in April.
"I am very excited looking towards Singapore Sevens," said Karauna.
"Playing in a superb stadium with great crowd support will give our players a massive lift.
"As Kenya showed the world last year, anything can happen."
- Fans of Japan can purchase two-day season passes at $150 (Category One) while the family package (admitting two adults and two children) is an affordable $320. Rugby fans seeking exclusivity can opt for the Sevens VIP Club experience priced at $1,600. For more ticketing options, visit www.singapore7s.sg