The relief is clear to see as Japan captain Chiharu Nakamura scores her side’s second try in their impressive comeback victory over Ireland in the Women’s Sevens Series qualifier final in Dublin. Photo: INPHO/Colm O’Neill.
Japan and Ireland will compete on next season’s HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series after qualifying in Dublin this weekend.
Progression to the final of the tournament in UCD Bowl was enough for both sides to ensure they will be core teams on the prestigious series when it kicks off at the end of this year.
Japan beat the girls in green in a thrilling final with a last minute penalty to clinch the win, 13-12, however Irish eyes were still smiling in Dublin with qualification wrapped up at that stage.
Earlier in the day Brazil won the Plate final after beating Hong Kong and Kenya beat Columbia to win the Bowl final in wet conditions in the Irish capital.
Ireland and Japan will join defending champions New Zealand, Canada, Australia, England, USA, France, Russia, Fiji and Spain on the 2015-16 Series. The Irish were a core team on the series in 2013-14, but for Japan it is the first time they will play in every round.
World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “Congratulations to Japan and Ireland for ensuring their spots on next season’s HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.
“With the Olympic Games less than one year away, it was great to see the passion and intensity as all sides battled to be on the series. Women’s rugby is one of the fastest growing team sports in the world and the competition among teams is increasing all the time. In the run up to Rio 2016, participation on next season’s series is very important.”
The dates and venues for the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series will be announced in due course.