Japan Sakura 7s Claim 10th At HSBC Cape Town SVNS 2023 – Confident Of Improvements
Japan Sakura 7s finished up 10th overall at the HSBC Cape Town SVNS 2023, the second leg of the HSBC SVNS Series. This follows the 9th-place finish in Dubai in the opening round, and they are already locked in a tight battle with South Africa, Spain, Brazil, and GB to avoid being in the bottom four this season.
Photo photo credit: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby
Sakura Mizutani told Rugby Asia 247 after her side’s close 14-15 loss to Brazil in the 9/10th Final, in which they fought back from 0-10 down to take the lead but were denied after the final hooter with a late Brazilian try, “The 9th or 10th place is not where we want to be. Last season, we got to the eighth. But this season it is hard to get there so we have to work harder.”
Last season, the Japanese really pushed some of the top women’s teams, including Australia and New Zealand, and had a best-ever finish in Hamilton, NZ. However over the two rounds so far this SVNS season, they have had some heavy losses to the Australians and Fiji.
Mizutani said that the squad has already had a lot of rugby (they have competed in the ARSS 2023, Asian Games and qualified for the Olympics). “We have had lots of tournaments. So I think we have learned some big lessons. But even because we have lots of games, we have to do right by Japanese rugby – it is important.”
One of the possible reasons (which we have also seen with South Africa who qualified this year via the Challenger Series) is the step-up required at the top SVNS level compared to regional rugby.
“It is difficult. It is a little bit easier for us to play against the teams in Asia but here the teams are very strong and have a lot of speed. So we have to be stronger and improve quickly,” she said.
She added that she remains confident in the team and there is still a long season ahead, both for the SVNS and with the Olympics in Paris thereafter.
Mizutani was also excited to be part of a women’s series that will play in Singapore for the first time. “I think it will be hot and humid in Singapore. And for Hong Kong, we just played this year but it was great and we saw so many Japanese fans and it’s always so much better to play in front of our fans.”
This season, the bottom four of the SVNS Series will play a relegation play-off competition in Madrid with the top four teams from the World Rugby Sevens Challenger, with the top four placed teams securing their place on HSBC SVNS 2025.
Japan Sakura Results – HSBC Cape Town SVNS 2023
You can follow all of the results from the SVNS here.
- Japan 12-36 Fiji
- Japan 0-54 Australia
- Japan 22-19 Spain
- Japan 27-7 South Africa 9/10th place SF
- Japan 14-15 Brazil 9/10th place Final
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