At this weekend’s Hong Kong Sevens, Japan will be looking to secure their place back on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
Having secured promotion from this tournament in 2016, Japan were relegated the following season and find themselves looking to qualify again alongside 11 other nations with the carrot of 10 tournaments next season.
Despite reaching the semi-finals of the Rio Olympic Games, Japan were unable to replicate their form on the series, but the focus has now shifted to this weekend’s Hong Kong Sevens where captain Dai Ozawa is hopeful they can join the elite once more.
“We have been training to win the qualifier for a while now,” said Ozawa.
“We have a confidence to win the games, so we just need to believe in what we do in order to do so.”
In 2016 Japan, now coached by Damian Karauna, beat Asian rivals Hong Kong 24-14 in the final thanks to a hat-trick from Lomano Lemeki, and this year find themselves in a tough pool alongside Georgia, Uganda and Chile.
Japan have a relatively experienced side, and include Siosifa Lisala who lit up the Asia Rugby Sevens Series last year, paired with some of those who experienced the 2016 qualifier.
“We have some players who experienced the qualifier last time so they will share their experience,” added Ozawa.
“They will lead this team to win again.”