Japan qualify as core side on World Series
Japan defeated Italy 26-5 in the final of the World Series qualifier to book their place on next season's HSBC Sevens World Series as a core side.
After victory over Russia in the semi finals of the qualifier competition at the 2014 Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, captain Katsuyuki Sakai scored 11 points in the victory against Andy Vilk's Italy,
“We can’t put it into words, now everyone knows Japan can compete at the world level," said an elated Lomano Lemeki after the full-time whistle.
"We are excited to show what we can do on the next Series. Japan has not been able to compete on the world level until recently and now this is the first step. There is a lot to come from Japanese rugby.”
— IRB Sevens (@IRBSevens) March 30, 2014
Twelve nations set out to qualify on Friday but only one place was on offer as a core team to play all nine rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series 2014/15.
Amid high drama in the Hong Kong stadium, Japan overcame Russia 19-14 in sudden death extra time, before Italy out-muscled the hosts, winning 12-0 to make it an Asia-Europe final.
Last week's hosts Tokyo beat Tunisia 38-7 in the first quarter final with Lote Tuqiri continuing to impress, adding a hat-trick to his tally in Hong Kong.
Fabrizio Sepe scored the winning try for Italy in sudden death extra time as Andy Vilk's side put out Zimbabwe.
In the pool stages Japan qualified after adding a 26-7 win against the Cook Islands to their two wins on day one, while hosts Hong Kong defeated Italy 19-0 to maintain their 100% record.