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Japan earned a spot in the 2011 Rugby World Cup tournament with their win over Hong Kong. The victory in the Asian Five Nations tournament is expected to raise awareness of the sport in Japan and the World Cup berth is definitely earning headlines. Japan also scored a significant coup by being selected as the host for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Although Japan has been a participant in every Rugby World Cup tournament since the first match in 1987, the national team has only earned a single win over Zimbabwe in 1991 during tournament play. Rugby was brought to Japan in 1899, and the team's showcase international victory is a win over Scotland in 1989. Other notable games include a 1968 win versus the Junior All Blacks, a loss to England in 1971, and a tie against Canada in the 2007 Rugby World Cup. However, Japan has been a rugby powerhouse among the Asian nations despite producing relatively limited results.
John Kirwan is the head coach for the team nicknamed the Cherry Blossoms or the Brave Blossoms. The team is expected to work on their overall fitness including improving their agility, speed, and stamina during the Rugby World Cup.
Japan is currently ranked 13th in the IRB world rugby standings, and the team will be playing in Pool A for the first part of the Rugby World Cup tournament. The teams in Pool A include Canada, France, New Zealand, and Tonga.
Japan's first opponent will be France on September 10th in Auckland, and the team faces the All Blacks on September 16th in Hamilton. Japan will play Tonga on September 21st in Whangarei. Their last game in Pool A will be against Canada on September 27th in Napier.
The Silverdale Rugby Club will host the Japanese team from August 31st to September 13th on Auckland's North Shore, and the team will train in Hamilton from September 14th to the 16th. Japan will move to Kerikeri for September 17th to the 19th, Whangarei for September 20th to the 21st, and Napier for September 22nd to the 27th.
More Rugby World Cup news at Sky Sport.