Japan boss happy with 'good start' to World Cup prep
SPOTLIGHT: Japan rugby union head coach Jamie Joseph hailed his team’s “good start” to their preparations for next year’s World Cup, after they thrashed Uruguay 43-7 on Saturday.
Japan reached the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time when they hosted the tournament in 2019 and Joseph is looking for a repeat performance at next year’s showpiece event in France.
The New Zealander was taking charge of his team for the first time this year. He said it was an “exciting time”, as Japan prepares to face England, Argentina, Samoa and a qualifier from the Americas at the World Cup.
“This game was a starting point for us,” he said.
“We’re trying to create a team in a very short period of time. When I look at that as the circumstance under which we played the match, I thought we had a very good start.”
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Check out the best bits from our Brave Blossoms during yesterday’s second clash with Uruguay.
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Japan beat Uruguay 34-15 last week in Tokyo but Joseph did not coach the team for that match, instead placing coach Takanobu Horikawa in charge of a line-up largely made up of development players.
Joseph was back at the helm as the countries met again in the southern Japanese city of Kitakyushu, and Japan took control through first-half tries from captain Atsushi Sakate and centre Dylan Riley.
Further scores from Sakate, Gerhard van der Heever and Yusuke Kajimura saw Japan increase their lead after the break, but Uruguay gave the home side problems late in the game and scored through Manuel Ardao.
“The last 15, 20 minutes got a little bit sloppy,” said Joseph, whose team will face Six Nations champions France twice at home over the coming weeks.
“Those are the sorts of things we can’t afford to do when we play Tier One sides,” he added.
Uruguay have been handed a tough World Cup assignment against hosts France, New Zealand, Italy and an African qualifier.
Head coach Esteban Meneses said his team had “learned a lot” from their two games against Japan.
“When you play against a team like Japan, just one mistake can lead to a try,” he said.
“We’ve seen how important the technical and physical side of the game is from these matches and we’ll be putting in the work to try to do well at the World Cup.”