Sunday, May 25, 2014

Rugby World Cup 2015: Japan to face the USA in Pool B

Japan book place at Rugby World Cup 2015
Photo IRB
Japan has qualified for Rugby World Cup 2015. The host nation of Rugby World Cup 2015 retained its undefeated record in the Asian Five Nations by defeating Hong Kong 49-8 in the final round played this weekend .The result is of extreme interest to rugby followers in both North and South America as it sees Japan qualifying for Pool B of Rugby World Cup 2015 which also contains the USA. In finishing second in Asia Hong Kong is to take-on Uruguay in August with the winner advancing to the Final Place Play-Off to play in Pool A of the World Cup. 

Japan's qualification ensures the top ranked Asian rugby playing country will retain its status of having played in every Rugby World Cup. It is to play in Pool B, a group well suited to the playing style of the Japanese team but one with unfortunate matches dates as the authorities have failed to provide the Asian Five Nations champions with a balanced match list. 

Japan is to start its Rugby World Cup 2015 campaign with a match against South Africa in Brighton on Saturday September 19, the second day of the tournament. Samoa will face the USA at the same venue on the following day while Scotland will play for the first time on September 23 and do so against Japan. The 2019 tournament hosts will, in other words, play two Tier One sides with only three rest days in between. 

Japan's third and fourth pool matches are to be more negotiable and also against sides which the Asian nation will feel more confident about not only facing but also winning. Japan has not won a Rugby World Cup match since 1991 but did draw against Canada in both 2007 and 2011. Japan was unlucky against Tonga in 2011 and will be looking to learn from the experience against Samoa and the USA in its third and fourth pool matches.

After taking on Scotland in the rugby heartland of Gloucester Japan will face Samoa in Milton Keynes before returning to Gloucester to face the USA Eagles. With the matches to be played on October 3 and 11 the Asian qualifier will be targeting wins against both opponents. 

Japan could be joined by Hong Kong who has the chance of qualifying for the Rugby World Cup for the first time in history. Hong Kong will travel to Montevideo to take on Los Teros on August 2 with the winner to then take on either Russia or an African country in a home and away series later in the year. The winner will qualify for Rugby World Cup 2015 as the Play-Off Winner and qualify for Pool A which included England, Wales, Australia and Fiji. 

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