Japan begin defence of Asian crown
April 26, 2011
Japan boss John Kirwan is hoping to lead the Japanese to a fourth successive Asian 5 Nations title © Getty Images
After receiving a bye on the opening weekend of the Asian 5 Nations, three-time defending champions Japan enter the fray this Saturday when they travel to Hong Kong.
The home side opened their campaign with an impressive 23-10 victory over last year's runners-up, Kazakhstan, in Almaty and will be hoping to inflict a first Championship defeat upon the Japanese.
Elsewhere, Kazakhstan will be hoping to get their campaign back on track when the take on United Arab Emirates in Dubai. Sri Lanka, who announced their arrival in the tournament's top division with a creditable 13-13 draw with the UAE, have the weekend off.
Meanwhile, it had already been announced that Japan will play all four of their games in this year's Asian 5 Nations away from home as the country continues to come to terms with the fallout from the devastation caused by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami which rocked the country earlier this year.
Now the International Rugby Board (IRB) has confirmed that all but one of the IRB Pacific Nations Cup matches will be moved from Japan to Fiji. Japan's clash with Samoa on July 2 will remain in Tokyou but the other five games have been switched to Lautoka and Suva.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "This has been a hard decision for everyone involved, given that the Japan Rugby Football Union has shown great enthusiasm for hosting the IRB Pacific Nations Cup this year, but all stakeholders agreed that it is in the best interests of the Union, the nation and the tournament."
"The thoughts of the global Rugby family continue to be with the people of Japan and everyone affected by the earthquake and Tsunami as they focus on the rebuilding process across the country. We will continue to give the Japan Rugby Football Union our support and assistance."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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