Japan, Asian Rugby Champions, face All Blacks ahead of European tour

Asian champions Japan will play World Cup champions New Zealand at the Chicabu Stadium in Tokyo on November 2 before heading to Europe for matches against Scotland (November 9), Russia (November 16) and Spain (November 23).

Japan, who won their sixth straight HSBC Asian 5 Nations title in May, have represented Asia in every Rugby World Cup since its inception in 1987 and will host the 2019 edition.

Former Australia boss Eddie Jones succeeded All Blacks legend John Kirwan as Japan coach last year and in November the ‘Brave Blossoms’ recorded a first-ever victory over Wales. In June this year, Japan beat newcomers USA and Canada in the IRB Pacific Nations Cup following earlier losses to Fiji and Tonga.

Japan will be among the tier-two nations playing a record total of 20 Test matches in November as the build-up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England continues.

Bernard Lapasset, Chairman of the IRB (International Rugby Board), said: “I am anticipating a truly captivating November series of matches. This is an exciting time for rugby worldwide and thanks to the ongoing commercial success of the Rugby World Cup, the IRB has been able to invest record sums in the game.

“The November 2012 and June 2013 programmes really showcased the tremendous competitive strides tier-two unions are making, with Samoa defeating Wales, Scotland and Italy, Tonga defeating Scotland and Japan recording a first-ever victory over Wales.”

The November schedule for tier-two national teams released by the IRB includes the first-ever Test between Brazil and Portugal, while Samoa and Tonga will visit Georgia and Romania respectively for the first time.

The programme is financed and supported by the IRB, which announced that it invests more than US$16 million each year in high-performance programmes and competitions for tier-two countries, including the expansion of the Pacific Nations Cup to include USA and Canada.

The success of the Rugby World Cup as a major global brand has enabled the IRB to finance and deliver more matches for tier-two nations in the important June and November windows.

“The November fixtures are playing a massive role in the development of unions who have been identified by the IRB as part of a major Strategic Investment Programme,” said Mark Egan, IRB Head of Competitions and Performance.

“These IRB World Ranking matches will enable coaches to assess players in a competitive environment, while giving the IRB the opportunity to benchmark the progress of the top ranked tier-two unions against both each other and, in some cases, against tier-one opposition.”

By SportAsia

Joyce leads Ireland Ladies Cricket Team to ICC world Twenty20 Finals

Isobel Joyce produced a Player of the Match performance to lead her young Irish side into the finals of the ICC World Twenty20, which will be held next April in Bangladesh.

Joyce scored an unbeaten 72 from 64 balls (6 fours) as Ireland posted 136 for 5 in the rain delayed encounter at YMCA.

The Irish skipper shared a crucial 80 run second wicket partnership with 17 year-old Kim Garth which laid the foundations for an impressive Irish batting performance on a slowish outfield following heavy rain.

Garth made a run a ball 31, but her dismissal saw Ireland fail to push on in the final overs, when a total of 150 looked to be within their grasp.

The Dutch women were always in contention in their reply, inspired by an excellent innings from Helmien Rambaldo. She made an unbeaten 58 from 54 balls (3 fours) and looked to be steering her team to the third qualification slot.

The game turned in Ireland’s favour thanks to two pieces of inspirational fielding. Firstly, Cecelia Joyce held a steepling catch on the boundary to remove the dangerous Tessa van der Gunn (20), and crucially, 13 year-old Lucy O’Reilly ran out Heather Siegers (29) to put Ireland back on top.

The Netherlands needed a boundary from the final ball but managed just a single as Ireland prevailed by just two runs – Laura Delany holding her nerve in those final anxious deliveries.

A fantastic game of cricket and a super advert for the Women’s game, played in front of a large crowd at YMCA, who deserve special praise for hosting the game in such trying and difficult conditions.

ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifiers 3rd-4th place play-off

At Claremont Road, YMCA

Ireland 136-5 (20 overs, Isobel Joyce 72*, Kim Garth 31, Marloes Braat 2-24) beat Netherlands 134-4 (Helmien Rambaldo 58*, Heather Siegers 29, Tessa van der Gun 20) by two runs.

Cricket Ireland Ladies Team

by Cricket Ireland