Sakura 7s Secure HSBC World Series Core Status at Challenger Event in Chile
Japan’s women’s sevens team (Sakura 7s) have qualified as a core HSBC World Sevens team for next season after winning the Challenger event in Chile over the weekend. Unfortunately, the other Asian contendors fell just short but overall were impressive.
Challenger Series 2022 – Women
Sakura 7s Secure HSBC World Series Core Status
Japan overcame Poland 17-0 in the women’s final to secure victory in the women’s tournament and secure a return to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series as a core team. The gutsy Polish team, who are amateurs beat the professional Chinese outfit in the semi-final after trialling by ten points at the half. but the clinic Japanese proved too much and deservedly earned their return to the World Series as a core team.
In their semi-final, Sakuras 7s beat Kenya 22-15, but the Lionesses ensured the Japanese had to work hard for victory after they had led 17-5 at half-time before Kenya narrowed the deficit to just two points. Wakaba Hara touched down for a hat-trick of tries to set up a final showdown with Poland.
The result represented a huge turnaround for Japan who were relegated from the Series in 2018 and were disappointed to finish in the last position at their home Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021.
Japan’s Chiharu Nakamura said: “It’s awesome, we are super happy. We had a tough time the last three years, after we had the worst place in our home Olympics and everyone thought Japanese women’s rugby is not in a good place, but now we can reach the start line again.
This team is really young and has grown with each game. We need to keep gaining experience and the World Series could be the key to doing well at the next Olympics.”
The 2023 HSBC World Sevens Series kicks off in Dubai from 2-3 December 2022 for the women.
Heading back to the big time 🏆@JRFURugby 🇯🇵#7sChallengerSeries pic.twitter.com/4TK7IqiS4j
— Rugby World Cup 7s 2022 (@WorldRugby7s) August 14, 2022
China finished the tournament strongly with a dominant 31-5 defeat of Kenya to earn third place while Kazakhstan overcame Belgium 17-5 to finish in the fifth position.
Kazakhstan lost to both Japan and China over the weekend and still has some way to go to close the gap on the top two women’s teams in Asia.
Challenger Series 2022 – Men
Uruguay men also won the men’s tournament, reaching core status for the first time in their history after they beat a physical and powerful Georgian team in the final 19-5.
The Georgia men had knocked out Hong Kong in the quarter-finals (and earlier in the year HK had comfortably beaten the Georgia men at the Algarve 7s) showing what a competitive tournament it was.
Uruguay captain Diego Ardao said: “I have been searching for this since the first time I started to play with this team in 2017. We dreamt this and we achieved it, we made the dream come true.”
Hong Kong finished its campaign on a high with a 12-7 win over Uganda to finish fifth. South Korea who endured a torrid weekend with a B team lost their final game to Papua New Guinea 40-19 and finished last in the men’s competition.
You can view all of the results from the weekend here.
For the men, the new World Series starts on 4-6 November 2022 in Hong Kong.
Rugby Sevens Tournament 2022 News
- Tournament Preview – World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2022 – Asian hopefuls.
- Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022: Cape Town.
- HSBC LA Rugby Sevens 2022 Pools.
- China Rugby Sevens Appoint Ollie Phillips as New Head Coach.