2018 RWC Sevens Qualifiers: Japan Joins Uganda After Claiming Respective Regional Qualifiers

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HONG KONG, HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 02: Katsuyuki Sakai (C) of Japan passes the ball during the Asia Rugby Men's Sevens 2017 Cup Semi Final match between Japan and China at King's Park Sports Ground on September 2, 2017 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. (Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images)

Two more Regional winners for 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens have qualified for the trip to San Francisco. Japan joins Uganda after claiming their respective regional qualifiers over the weekend. The third leg of the Asian Regional Qualifiers was held over the weekend with Hong Kong walking away with the title but Japan finish on top of the series.

Uganda qualified the week before when they won the African Regional Qualifiers. The Ugandans will be appearing for the first time in a Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament.

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Japan will have both their Men’s and Women’s side in San Francisco. Joining them from the Asian Region will be their respective runners-up, the Hong Kong Men’s side and the Chinese Women’s side.

Zimbabwe will join Uganda as African Men’s Qualifies with the Lady Blitzbokke as Women’s representatives.

Japan Joins Uganda After Claiming Regional Qualifiers

It has been a tough road for the Japanese to qualify for the Rugby Sevens World Cup. Hong Kong and South Korea have really put them to the test. Hong Kong defeated Japan in extra-time 19-14 to claim the third leg of the Asian Qualifiers in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was the second time in two days that the plucky Hong Kong outfit defeated the more fancied Japanese side. They overcame the Japanese 19-7 in the pool stages.

Hong Kong has really grown under Paul John who took over from Jevon Groves after the departure of Gareth Baber to Fiji. The Hong Kong side needed to finish two spots above Korea to finish runners-up and they did that in style. Sri Lanka defeated South Korea for the third spot, giving the Chinese island side the runners-up spot.

“The main goal was to get qualification and I’m just pleased the way they dug in and fought for each other out there,” was the conclusion from Paul John on worldrugby.org

Finishing as runners-up has enabled Hong Kong to compete at the HSBC Sevens Series 2018/19 qualifiers, at their home tournament in April. Japan has also qualified for the Sevens Word Series qualifiers and an invitation to the Singapore Sevens next April.

Chinese Women’s Side Continues to Grow

They might be small in size but they punch above their weight as all Asian Women’s sides. They have really grown in their game in the past few seasons especially in Asia. The Chinese finished second to the Japanese Sakura ladies to qualify for the Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco. Japan edged out China in the final of the second leg of the Asian Qualifiers 10-5.

The Sakura side finished on top of the table after claiming both legs of the qualifiers after taking out the first in Incheon, South Korea, a month ago. They logged up 24 points with China on 22 and the ever-improving, back from hiatus, Kazakhstan side finishing third on 18.

The Chinese will feature at the UON Central Coast Sevens from the October 27-29, which should also be good for their development. They will face the shadow Australian, Canadian, Fijian and Kiwis national women’s sides in the tourney.

The Chinese Under 17 side will also be participating, which will really boost morale and knowledge of the game going forward.

Uganda and Zimbabwe Claim African Regional Qualifiers Places

Uganda and Zimbabwe will join South Africa and Kenya as African representatives in the World meet. The African region will be looking for their first ever win at a Rugby World Cup Sevens meet. South Africa is one of the hot favorites as well as Kenya on their day.

It was triple celebration for the Rugby Sevens Cranes as they were crowned winners for the second time in-a-row with a narrow 10-7 victory over Zimbabwe. Not only did they qualify for the Rugby World Cup Sevens, they also regained their spot to opening two rounds of the HSBC Sevens Series in Dubai and Hong Kong. To top it off, they have also qualified for the Sevens Series Qualifiers in Hong Kong in April with Zimbabwe.

“To qualify for the World Cup is massive, it means everything to us,” said Zimbabwe captain Hilton Mudariki on worldrugby.org

Uganda will be debuting in the Rugby World Cup Sevens with Zimbabwe making their fifth appearance. They took part in 1997, 2001, 2009 and the 2013 tournament.
The Lady Blitzbokke side will be representing the region in the Women’s competition. Again, South Africa can turn up the heat in the competition only if they can believe in themselves. They have the players but just lack self-belief.

More Spots Booked for San Francisco RWC Sevens 2018

Men’s Competition

With the African and Asian Qualifiers found only five spots are up for grabs. Hong Kong, Japan, Uganda and Zimbabwe join the top eight from Moscow in 2013.
Reigning World champs New Zealand, finalist England, Fiji, Kenya, South Africa, Wales, Australia, France and host United States have quailed automatically. They were joined by Scotland, Canada, Argentina and Samoa who were the top four outside those nine sides. The regional qualification will make up the 11 places up for grabs.

European (2 teams) – Russia and Ireland
Asia (2 teams) – Japan and Hong Kong
Africa (2 teams) – Uganda and Zimbabwe
North America (1 team)
South America (2 teams)
Oceania (2 teams)

Women’s Competition

The four semi-finalists from Moscow 2013 have qualified automatically. They were joined by the top four teams from the 2016/17 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series excluding the top three pre-qualified teams. Australia, France, Fiji and Russia have now qualified. The remaining eight places will be filled by regional qualifiers winners.

Europe (2 teams) – England and Ireland
Asia (2 teams) – Japan and China
Africa (1 team) – South Africa
North America (1 team)
South America (1 team)
Oceania (1 team)

Meanwhile….

World Rugby has released the pools for the opening round of the HSBC World Sevens Series in Dubai. South Africa leads Pool A with England leading Pool B, South Sea Islanders Fiji head Pool C with New Zealand top seed in Pool D.

Uganda will be the invitational side once again after reclaiming their African Regional Qualifiers crown. We also welcome back Spain as core status side.

In the Women’s Competition

Defending Series champions New Zealand leads Pool A with Australia top seed in Pool B and Canada heads Pool C as we welcome back South Africa as a core status side.

Looking at Other Competitions

Oceania Rugby has also released the fixtures of the Oceania Sevens to be held in Suva from the 10-11th of November, 2017.

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Don’t forget to stay tuned to Last Word on Rugby as we bring you the coverage of UON Central Coast Sevens from October 27-29.

 

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