Thursday, April 23, 2015


7 April 2015

Written by Ian Mcdonnell

Edited by Gary Carbines for

RiJ was at the Tokyo Sevens on the weekend. Certainly a rugby marathon, but who’s complaining.

Enjoy the read.


  • HSBC World Rugby Sevens-Tokyo

2015-tokyo7s-logo      HSBC 7s

HSBC Sevens World Series 2014-15

Round 7, Tokyo Sevens

4-5 April 2015, Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground, Tokyo

South Africa and England played out the Cup Final at the Tokyo Sevens on Sunday with England hanging on at the end to win 21-14 and collect their first Cup title since Wellington in 2013.

Meanwhile, Fiji came in third after they beat Canada 21-19 in the Third Place Play-off, but it took a come-from-behind try after the bell for the Fijians to do it. Other winners in Tokyo included New Zealand who beat Scotland 21-14 in the Plate Final after Dylan Collier scored the winning try after the bell, the USA who beat Australia 17-12 in the Bowl Final and Portugal who beat Argentina 12-7 in the Shield Final. The USA and Australia were tied at 12-all at the end of regular time and it took a golden-point try from Perry Baker to win it for the Eagles.

For Japan, it was their best tournament of the season to date with a draw with Argentina, a win over Samoa and a loss to France giving the hosts second place in Pool D and a place in a Cup Quarterfinal for the first time since 2000. Japan came up against Sevens powerhouse Fiji in their Cup quarter clash with the islanders running out 41-5 winners. The loss to Fiji put Japan into the Plate Semi-finals against Scotland with the Scots putting an end to the Japan campaign with a 14-5 win.

After seven of nine rounds, Japan are still the lowest ranked side of the fifteen core teams, but the 10 points they picked up in Tokyo took their tally to 17 points, closing the gap on fourteenth-placed Portugal on 25 points who collected 3 points for winning the Shield final. South Africa stretched their lead at the head of the overall standings with 129 points from Fiji on 125 points, New Zealand on 120 points and England on 100 points.

Courtesy World Rugby/Martin Seras Lima

The Japan Sevens Squad for Tokyo









Hokkaido Barbarians





Shunya GOTO

Honda Heat






Coca-Cola Red Sparks






Toshiba Brave Lupus





Lomano Lava LEMEKI

Honda Heat





Michihiro TAKAI

Kyuden Voltex





Katsuyuki SAKAI (c)

Toyota Industries Shuttles





Masakatsu HIKOSAKA

Toyota Verblitz





Yoshikazu FUJITA

Waseda University






Toshiba Brave Lupus





Chihito MATSUI

Doshisha University





Kazuhiro GOYA

Ryutsu Keizai University





Head Coach: Tomohiro Segawa (JRFU).
S&C Coach: Noriyasu Miyama (JRFU).
Skills Coach: Roger Randle (JRFU).
Technical Coach: Hiroyuki Hamamura (Ryukoku University).
Team Doctor: Atsushi Tasaki (St Luke’s International Hospital).
Physiotherapist: Yasutaka Tatsumi (Kyushu Kyoritsu University).
Analyst: Masahiro Komori (JRFU).
Team Manager: Yasuhiro Iijima (JRFU).


Pool A

Pool B

Pool C

Pool D


New Zealand

South Africa










Hong Kong




Pool D Games for Japan

Day 1: Saturday, 04 April 2015

Match 8 (12:34): Argentina 14 d Japan 14

Japan: 1- Lote Tuqiri, 3- Yusaku Kuwazuru, 4- Hiroki Yoshida, 5- Lomano Lemeki, 7- Katsuyuki Sakai (c), 9- Yoshikazu Fujita, 11- Chihito Matsui.

Substitutes: 2- Shunya Goto, 6- Michiro Takai, 8- Masakatsu Hikosaka, 10- Shohei Toyoshima, 12- Kazuhiro Goya.

Japan Scorers: Tries: Katsuyuki Sakai and Lomano Lemeki; Conversions: Katsuyuki Sakai 2.

Japan played their first Pool D game at their home tournament Tokyo Sevens in the final game of the morning session when they took on Argentina. The Pumas beat Japan 19-14 in Pool C in Hong Kong last weekend, while overall, Japan have won one, drawn one and lost twelve of the fourteen previous meetings between these two sides on the World Series.

Wearing blue jerseys, Japan kicked off and gained possession to play the game deep in the Argentina half. Both sides put boot to ball early on with the game taking time to settle down. The action then gradually shifted to the Japan end of the ground, but Argentina were their own undoing with unforced errors leading to break downs in play. Japan finally tipped the scales with Sakai kicking across field for Tuqiru to clean up and pass back inside for Sakai to score the opening try. Sakai converted his own try but the Pumas responded with a try to Segundo Tuculet near the posts on the stroke of halftime taking the teams going to the break all tied up at 7-all.

The game started to open up as the second half got under way with Lemeki eventually breaking the deadlock with a swan dive under the posts to help push the hosts ahead 14-7. As in the first half, though, Argentina struck back with a captain’s knock from Javier Rojas running the length of the field to score under the posts and even the score at 14-all. Play continued well after the hooter had sounded but neither side could add to the scoreboard with a draw the final result.

After the match, head coach Tomohiro Segawa made the following comments, “This was a frustrating result. Repeated penalties handed ball and momentum back to Argentina and this is something we have to fix for our next games. We still have things to learn, however, we defended well at the end and this team continues to improve.”

Captain Katsuyuki Sakai said, “An unfortunate result. We fell off in defence late in the first half allowing Argentina to take advantage and so we have to maintain focus throughout. Our systems are basically sound, but we still have to work on our communication.”

Lote Tuqiri also said, “We should have won, but we made too many mistakes. However, one of the positives for us was our defence. Looking ahead now, we know Samoa and France are fast and physical and so we will have to match them.”

Match 15 (15:30): Japan 26 d Samoa 12

Japan: 1- Lote Tuqiri, 2- Shunya Goto, 3- Yusaku Kuwazuru, 5- Lomano Lemeki, 7- Katsuyuki Sakai (c), 9- Yoshikazu Fujita, 11- Chihito Matsui.

Substitutes: 4- Hiroki Yoshida, 6- Michiro Takai, 8- Masakatsu Hikosaka, 10- Shohei Toyoshima, 12- Kazuhiro Goya.

Japan Scorers: Tries: Lomano Lemeki 2 and Chihito Matsui 2; Conversions: Kazuhiro Goya 2 and Katsuyuki Sakai.

In their second Pool D match, Japan came up against Samoa. Japan beat the Samoans 17-4 the last time they met, at Port Elizabeth in December last year, but overall; the islanders have won fifteen of the nineteen previous meetings between them on the World Series. Samoa beat France 14-12 in their first game of the tournament while Japan drew with Argentina 14-all leaving everything to play for in this match-up.

Samoa kicked off to Japan in an all-white strip with the hosts immediately going on the attack with Lomano Lemeki powering his way to the try line for the opening try of the match. After the opening onslaught, Samoa finally got their hands on the ball, but against the run of play, Japan were next to score with Chihito Matsui streaking in for the second Japanese try with Katsuyuki Sakai adding the extras for a 12-0 lead. However, flyer Siaosi Asofolau closed out the first try with a five pointer to put Samoa on the board at 12-5 at the break.

Samoa built pressure with ball in hand as the second half progressed resulting in Faalemiga Selesele going over in the right-hand corner with the successful conversion tying things up at 12-all. Lemeki then broke the deadlock scooting in for his second try with the conversion putting Japan back in front to the tune of 19-12. The home side then closed out the result with Matsui crossing for his second try at the death with Japan winning 26-12.

After the match, two-try hero Chihito Matsui had the following to say, “My team mates helped me remain focussed and that was behind the tries. However, we still have one pool game to play against France and we have to recover and be ready for it.”

Lote Tuqiri also said, “This was a must-win game for us after the draw with Argentina. We got together and we knew we had to step up and that’s what we did. We’re happy with ourselves, but we’re not finished yet. We need to improve in both attack and defence and hopefully everyone will be up for it.”

Match 24 (20:04): France 24 d Japan 19

Japan: 1- Lote Tuqiri, 2- Shunya Goto, 3- Yusaku Kuwazuru, 5- Lomano Lemeki, 7- Katsuyuki Sakai (c), 9- Yoshikazu Fujita, 11- Chihito Matsui.

Substitutes: 4- Hiroki Yoshida, 6- Michiro Takai, 8- Masakatsu Hikosaka, 10- Shohei Toyoshima, 12- Kazuhiro Goya.

Japan Scorers: Tries: Yoshikazu Fujita, Lomano Lemeki and Shohei Toyoshima; Conversions: Katsuyuki Sakai 2.

In their third and final Pool D match, Japan played France. These two sides have been in the same pool four times this season with the French winning the first three encounters. Here in Tokyo in round seven, host country Japan drew with Argentina 14-all in their first game and then beat Samoa 26-12 while France lost to Samoa 14-12 and then beat Argentina 17-7.

In a nervous start, Japan kicked out on the full to allow France to go on the front foot with Manoel Dall’Igna dotting down for the first try early in the piece. Stephen Parez ran in the second French try before Japan responded with a converted try to Yoshikazu Fujita closing the gap to 12-7. Lomano Lemeki then chipped and chased, got the bounce and used his power to barrel over for Japan’s second try with the conversion giving Japan a 14-12 lead at halftime.

The second half started when France were first on the board when Parez burrowed over for his second try to give the French a 17-14 lead. A weight of possession kept France on the attack with scrambling defence denying the French a certain try, but from the ensuing scrum, Vincent Inigo crossed the whitewash for the third French try. Shohei Toyoshima ran in a late try for Japan but France took the game 24-19. Despite the loss, Japan progress to the Cup Quarter Finals from Pool D along with table-topping France.

In action on day one of the Tokyo Sevens, round seven of the HSBC Sevens World Series 2014-15, defending champions Fiji made a clean sweep of Pool A to top their pool while England booked their place in the Cup Quarter Finals when they came in second. In cool to cold conditions in the nation’s capital that kept the attendance down, Wales finished third in the same pool with five points from one win and two losses with Hong Kong, as the only none-core team in Tokyo, finishing on the bottom from three straight losses.

In Pool B, Australia started dismally with a shock 12-10 loss to Portugal, compounded by a 17-14 loss to Scotland in their next game. However, the Aussies made amends with a well-deserved win over trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand in their last game, but it was not enough to see them through to the Cup stage of the tournament. New Zealand and Scotland qualified for the Cup leaving Australia and Portugal to battle it out for Bowl honours on Sunday.

In Pool C, season standings front-runner South Africa enjoyed wins over Canada, Kenya and the USA to head the pool. Elsewhere in the same pool, Canada came from nowhere with a 26-10 win over Kenya in the final pool game putting them through to the Cup Quarter Finals. Canada, Kenya and the USA all finished on five points with the best points for and against seeing the Canadians progress.

In Pool D, tournament hosts Japan were the surprise-packet of the day, holding Argentina to a draw in their first game before backing that up with a comprehensive 26-12 win over Samoa. France were too good for Japan in the final pool game of day one winning 24-19 with the win pushing France into top spot on the table with Japan taking second place. Consequently, Japan will find themselves in the unfamiliar situation of playing in the Cup Quarter Finals on day two of the tournament. Argentina and Samoa went helter skelter in their final pool game that eventually ground down to a 26-all draw.

With the pool stage now complete, the match-ups for the Cup Quarter Finals on day two are decided with Fiji playing Japan, South Africa doing battle with Scotland, France battling England while Canada face New Zealand. The remaining eight sides will play for the Bowl and Shield titles.

Courtesy World Rugby

Day 2: Sunday, 05 April 2015

Knockout results for Japan

Match 29 (11:20): Cup Quarter Final, Fiji 41 d Japan 5

Japan: 1- Lote Tuqiri, 2- Shunya Goto, 3- Yusaku Kuwazuru, 5- Lomano Lemeki, 7- Katsuyuki Sakai (c), 9- Yoshikazu Fujita, 11- Chihito Matsui.

Substitutes: 4- Hiroki Yoshida, 6- Michiro Takai, 8- Masakatsu Hikosaka, 10- Shohei Toyoshima, 12- Kazuhiro Goya.

Japan Scorers: Try: Katsuyuki Sakai.

Japan finished second in Pool D on 6 points from a win over Samoa, a draw with Argentina and a loss to France and this put the Japanese into the Cup Quarter Finals at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground on Sunday where they faced defending champions Fiji. Fiji topped Pool A with straight wins over England, Wales and Hong Kong and after back-to-back titles in Hong Kong and Las Vegas, the flying Fijians are firming as favourites to make it three in a row.

Fiji kicked off and regathered with Josaia Raisuqe crossing for the opening try with only 14 seconds on the clock. Playing in a Cup Quarter Final for the first time since 2000, Japan in their blue jerseys had to have a go and take the fight to Fiji in what was cold and wet conditions in Tokyo. However, the size, power and skill of the Fijians was hard to contain with Raisuqe soon crossing for his second try to extend the led to 12-0. Raisuqe followed that up with another five-pointer to bring up his hat trick and push the game further away from the hosts. Semi Kunatani kept the scoreboard ticking over with the fourth try to the islanders, but Japan had the last say in the first half with captain Katsuyuki Sakai finishing off what was one of the best team tries of the tournament to take the sides to the break with Fiji leading 22-5.

In the second half, both sides tried to throw the ball around in the wet conditions but the loose play suited the Fijians to a tee with Samisoni Viriviri running in the first try of the latter half with Raisuqe backing up for his fourth try soon thereafter for a 36-5 lead. With Japan falling off tackles, Savenaca Rawaca finished off the rout with the seventh Fijian try at the end to blow out the final score to 41-5.

After the match, a clearly riled head coach Tomohiro Segawa said, “This was a very disappointing result. The players didn’t commit to their tackles and when they did went too high on the big Fijians. They know what they did wrong and they have to have pride in the jersey. We’ve learned nothing from this.”

Match 37 (14:38): Plate Semi Final, Scotland 14 d Japan 5

Japan: 1- Lote Tuqiri, 3- Yusaku Kuwazuru, 4- Hiroki Yoshida, 5- Lomano Lemeki, 7- Katsuyuki Sakai (c), 9- Yoshikazu Fujita, 11- Chihito Matsui.

Substitutes: 2- Shunya Goto, 6- Michiro Takai, 8- Masakatsu Hikosaka, 10- Shohei Toyoshima, 12- Kazuhiro Goya.

Japan Scorers: Try: Shunya Goto.

The loss to Fiji in the Cup Quarter Finals put Japan into the Plate Semi Finals where they faced Scotland. Scotland finished second in Pool B behind New Zealand, but in their Cup Quarter Final bout against South Africa, they encountered an in-form Blitzboks outfit with the Africans running out convincing 22-0 winners. Japan and Scotland met last week in Hong Kong in the Bowl quarterfinals with the Scots winning 28-7 on that occasion.

Wearing all white, Japan kicked off the Plate semi-final with Scotland immediately going on the attack. When Japan tried to run the slippery ball out of their own 22, a drop ball under pressure allowed Colin Gregor to scoop up the scraps and slip through for the opening try. The lights were on at the Chichibu stadium in the darkening conditions as neither side could add to the scoreboard with Scotland leading Japan 7-0 at the break.

In the second half, both sides continued with scrappy rugby in the wet weather conditions. However, Japan still tried to run it, but the committed Scottish defence kept the home side at bay. Shunya Goto finally got Japan’s first try, but the unsuccessful conversion meant Japan still trailed by two points. All-in-all, a Scottish try at the death to Chris Dean sealed the 14-5 victory, putting an end to the Japan campaign at the 2015 Tokyo Sevens.

Post-match, head coach Tomohiro Segawa reflected on the final match and the tournament as a whole, “Again, not the result we wanted, but the players did their best and kept it close throughout. Over the tournament, we’ve shown how much we’ve improved, but we still have a long way to go. Across the season, we’ve gotten more and more used to playing at this level and now, we’ll rest up and recover over the next few weeks and then prepare for Glasgow and London where we need to pick up more points.”

Courtesy World Rugby

The second and final day of activities at the Tokyo Sevens, the seventh round of HSBC Sevens World Series 2014-15 took place at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground in central Tokyo on Sunday 5 April 2015.

In wet and cold conditions, the Bowl Quarterfinals got the day going early in the morning for the bottom two teams in each of the four pools. Wales beat Argentina 14-7 in the first game of the day while Australia beat Kenya 14-6 in the next game before Samoa beat Hong Kong 21-0 and the USA beat Portugal 39-0.

In the top half of the draw, playing in their first Cup Quarterfinal since 2000, tournament hosts Japan were no match for Fiji with the rampant islanders winning 41-5 while the South African Blitzboks were too good for Scotland in the next game taking the result 22-0. European rivals England and France went head-to-head in the third quarterfinal clash with the English winning 10-0 while in the last game of the morning session; Canada supplied an upset to go with Portugal beating Australia by beating New Zealand 19-15.

As the day progressed, Argentina beat Kenya 17-12 and Portugal beat Hong Kong 19-17 in the Shield semi-finals and Australia beat Wales 17-12 and the USA beat Samoa 22-5 in the Bowl semi-finals. Following that, Scotland beat Japan 14-5 and New Zealand beat France 19-12 in the Plate semi-finals while in the Cup semis, South Africa beat Fiji 7-5 and England beat Canada 14-5.

After winning the Plate final after the hooter against Scotland, New Zealand captain DJ Forbes speaking to Karl Tenana on-fiield said, “Pretty much the walking wounded at the end, but it was a real test of character for the boys. We had five new caps in the team here in Tokyo and there were plenty of learning curves for us ahead of the last two rounds.”

In the Cup final between South Africa and England, the RVR (Referee Video Review) was called upon early after Seabelo Senatla appeared to score the opening try in the right-hand corner. However, the try was denied leaving both teams scoreless. However, England went on the attack with big man Charlie Hayter barging his way through the South African defence for the first points in the Cup final. The Blitzboks struck back immediately with Justin Geduld collecting a deft kick pass to score the try and tie the scores at 7-all, the eventual halftime score.

With the rain coming down, England started the final half of the tournament on the front foot when Tom Mitchell won the race to the ball on a kick through to open up a 14-7 lead. South Africa were attacking the England goal line but a penalty against them saw forward Phil Burgess tap and run the length of the field to dot down and push the score out to 21-7. The Sevens prowess of Cecil Afrika came to the fore as he ran in the next try to make it 21-14, but England then did enough to hang on and take their first Cup title since Wellington in 2013.

England head coach Simon Amor said after the win, “The boys worked so hard for this and they thoroughly deserve it. One of our key goals this year was to win a tournament and now we’ve achieved that.”

England captain Tom Mitchell said, “I’m unbelievably pleased. It was a huge effort for this group and I’m so pleased we could deliver. South Africa is a fantastic team and they’ve shown that all tournament, so to beat them in the final was great.”

Forward Phil Burgess, who scored a length-of-the-field try to tip the game in England’s favour said, “I saw no one was at home and I had to get my head down and charge. It was important as South Africa were pressing and pressing and we caught them a little bit off guard. Today everything fell into place for us.”

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