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Loamanu shines in historic debut for Japan

by Rich Freeman

Christian Loamanu rewrote the Japanese rugby history books on Saturday, as Japan took on Uruguay in Montevideo.

The Tongan-born student, who recently started his first year at Saitama Institute of Technology, became the youngest ever player to represent the national team and for good measure also became the youngest ever try scorer.

At 18 years, 11 months and 3 days, the 105-kg wing beat the previous record set by Meiji University student Masahiko Tanba, who was 19 years and 15 days old when Japan played Canada on Jan. 31, 1932.

Loamanu’s historic day ended in disappointment, however, as Japan (ranked 18th in the International Rugby Board’s world standings) lost 24-18 to Los Teros (15th), despite leading 15-5 at halftime.