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How are Japan doing at the Rugby SVNS tournament?

Addressing Japan's Performance at the Rugby Sevens

By Lewis HumphriesPublished 2 months ago 4 min read
Two tries by Ireland's Vicky Elmes Kinlan denied Japan a famous win in Vancouver

Affectionately known as the Sakura Sevens, the Japanese women's rugby sevens team has shown remarkable progress and resilience in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series so far. In fact, their recent results in this competition underline their growing stature in the global rugby sevens landscape.

Throughout this year, they have demonstrated significant growth and have clearly been buoyed by their recent successful campaign in the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series. Their victory in this tournament secured them a spot in the HSBC SVNS Series, marking their return as a core team for the first time since 2018.

They have been part of a concerted effort to elevate Japan's rugby profile, leveraging their skills, teamwork, and strategic insights to compete against the world's best.

Let’s explore how the Sakura Sevens have squared up to the competition so far, and what the future could hold for the team!


Kicking off their HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai, the Sakura Sevens entered with determination, facing tough competitors right from the start.

Despite their valiant efforts and moments of strategic brilliance, however, they found wins elusive in the pool stage, leading to their placement in the lower bracket for the playoffs.

Undeterred, their resilience shone through as they regrouped to secure a notable 9th place finish against the illustrious opponents. This secured them four points and ensured a promising start.

Cape Town

In Cape Town, the Sakura Sevens built on their Dubai experiences, entering with enhanced teamwork and sharper strategies.

Their refined approach led to a more unified performance, securing a third-place pool finish that underscored their growing skills and competitive edge.

Although they didn't reach the top playoff tier, their progress in Cape Town showcased their burgeoning potential on the global stage. They ultimately finished in 10th place and added another three points to their total.


Facing tough competition in Perth at the end of January, the Sakura Sevens encountered seasoned teams, enduring intense matches and early losses that tested their resilience.

Despite these challenges, they embodied their ethos of growth, making a remarkable comeback in the playoffs. Their victory against Spain not only showcased their ability to learn and improve, but also significantly lifted their morale and confidence, positioning them above the lower ranks.

So, although they ultimately recorded their lowest finish in the Sevens Series to date (11th) and only earned two points, they reminded everyone of the talent and resilience that exists within the group.


Most recently, the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series moved to Vancouver in Canada, where matches were played between the 23rd and 25th of February.

Here, New Zealand dominated France in the final, while host nation Canada upset the favourites and current tournament leaders Australia to win bronze and earn an impressive 16 points.

As for Japan, they had a chance to match their performance in Dubai by finishing ninth, only to be edged out by Ireland in their final match. However, they performed superbly and were incredibly competitive throughout against the winners of the Perth leg of the competition, only losing 12-7.

Their tenacious performance may have earned them a crucial win were it not for the efforts of Ireland’s Vicky Elmes Kinlan, who scored a brace of crucial tries. However, Japan managed to finish 10th and bank three more points, taking their tally to 12 after four gameweeks.

Looking Forward

Japan are now placed 11th and four points clear of Russia, while they remain level on points with 10th place Spain.

As the series progresses with upcoming legs in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Madrid, the Sakura Sevens are poised for more opportunities to showcase their talent and growth.

Representing both Japan and women’s sports with pride, they add significantly to the global appeal and competitive nature of rugby sevens. Their path forward is filled with both challenges and opportunities, promising a rich narrative of development and success in this exciting sport.

We can only watch this space, of course, but the Sakura Sevens’ performances so far hint at a bright future for both the team and its individual players!


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