Japan have secured a place in Pool C at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 in Ireland after defeating Hong Kong 20-8 to win the Asia/Oceania qualification tournament in Hong Kong on Saturday.
With both teams having already secured qualification courtesy of earlier victories over Fiji in the three-team tournament, Japan qualify as Asia/Oceania 1 and will play hosts Ireland, France and Australia in the showcase event in Dublin and Belfast.
Ireland 2017 will be the first time Japan has featured in a Women’s Rugby World Cup for more than 20 years, having participated in the first two events in 1991 and 1994.
Qualification is a further boost for rugby in Japan, where popularity is at an all-time high following successful Rugby World Cup 2015 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games campaigns. Excitement is also building with a little over 1000 days to go until the nation hosts Rugby World Cup 2019.
Hong Kong, who made history to qualify for Women’s Rugby World Cup for the first time, take their place as Asia/Oceania 2 and will face Women’s Rugby Wold Cup 2014 silver medallists Canada, the world’s number one team New Zealand, and Wales in Pool A.
Pool B comprises reigning champions England, USA, Italy and Spain.