Tokyo - Japan made history on Saturday by beating Six Nations champions Wales
23-8 for their first ever victory over a major rugby nation in nearly
80 years of international competition.
Second-half tries from
foreign-born players Craig Wing and Michael Broadhurst helped re-write
the record books for Japan against a depleted Wales, who were missing
their head coach and 15 players because of the British and Irish Lions
Despite the unfamiliar Welsh line-up, the result is a boost
for rugby in Japan, the hosts of the 2019 World Cup who have played in
all seven editions of the tournament so far but have won only once,
against minnows Zimbabwe in 1991.
Japan played their first
international fixtures in the 1930s, and they first took on a Wales XV
in Cardiff in 1973. In nine full Test matches with Wales, Japan have
been on the wrong end of some giant scores including a 98-0 blow-out in
However, steeled by last week's narrow 22-18 defeat, Japan
edged the first half 6-3 thanks to the boot of fullback Ayumu Goromaru,
and after a Welsh try on 44 minutes they hit back with two of their own
before wrapping up a worthy win.
In hot and humid conditions at
Tokyo's Chichibunomiya Stadium, the hosts took an early lead through a
Goromaru penalty but visiting flyhalf Dan Biggar levelled the scores
before Welsh wing Harry Robinson came close to the opening try.
a long-range potshot from Goromaru six minutes before half-time gave
Japan their three-point lead at the break, raising hopes of a famous
Wales came out firing at the start of the second half and
Robinson again went close before left wing Tom Prydie finally crossed
following great work from replacement back Rhys Patchell and a long pass
But Japan quickly regained the initiative at 13-8
when Wing, a former rugby league international for Australia, went over
after steady build-up play involving a number of phases.
responded by making a raft of substitutions, but they were forced into
some last-ditch defending when Robinson and Liam Williams combined to
halt Japanese number eight Takashi Kikutani just short of the line.
New Zealand-born Broadhurst extended Japan's lead when he went over in
the right corner for their second try on the hour-mark, with Goromaru
slotting the extras for a 20-8 lead with 20 minutes to go.
hopes took another hit when they were controversially denied a try after
Patchell pounced on a grubber kick by Biggar, only to be judged not to
have grounded the ball.
With three minutes left, Goromaru landed
his third penalty to make sure of a win which prompted celebrations in
Tokyo, and will also lift 15th-ranked Japan in their fight to join
rugby's top 10 by the next World Cup in 2015.