With Japanese rugby very much in the spotlight at present, just two years away from hosting Rugby World Cup 2019, the under-20s team gave the entire country a boost by winning the World Rugby U20 Trophy in Uruguay on Sunday.
In doing so, Japan reclaimed their place among the elite of international age-grade rugby as it won promotion to next year’s U20 Championship. The Japan players, who dream of one day playing for the Brave Blossoms, beat Portugal 14-3 in a final that was abandoned after 67 minutes for player safety reasons as widespread thunder and lightning spread throughout the area.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “I’d like to pass on congratulations to the Japan team for this great victory and for winning promotion to next year’s U20 Championship. It is unfortunate for Portugal, who did so well to qualify for the final, but the safety of the players comes before all else and under the circumstances it was the right decision to abandon the match.
“These are exciting times for rugby in Japan. We have seen the Brave Blossoms do so well over the past few seasons and the game is growing rapidly there. That all bodes well for the hosting of Rugby World Cup 2019 across the length and breadth of the nation in two years’ time. It’s the first time the game’s flagship tournament has ever been held in Asia or, for that matter, outside the traditional rugby heartlands, so we are all very excited about that prospect.
“I’d like to thank the Unión de Rugby del Uruguay for hosting this tournament in Montevideo. In spite of the inclement weather conditions, it was a great success and reflects the dedication and hard work on behalf of the union as well as World Rugby staff. Also, thanks are due to the players, coaches and team support personnel from each of the eight teams as well as the match officials for making this year’s Trophy so compelling. The high level of rugby on display shows how the game is progressing around the world and we will continue to support this tournament, which is important for the development of the next generation of international players.”