Yoshihiro Sakata, at one time considered among the top rugby players in the world, will be inducted into the International Rugby Board’s Hall of Fame, the IRB announced Tuesday. He will be the first Japanese to be inducted.
Sakata, a Japan international who once scored four tries in a famous win against the Junior All Blacks and also played provincial rugby in New Zealand for Canterbury, became the 51st member to join the Hall.
“This is really an honor,” Sakata said from Mizuho Stadium in Nagoya. “This is the result of giving it my all. I’m very thankful to rugby.”
Fiji beats Japan
Japan suffered its first loss under Eddie Jones as the Brave Blossoms went down 25-19 at the hands of Fiji in their Pacific Nations Cup opener on Tuesday.
Ayumu Goromaru scored 14 of Japan’s points. The hosts were awarded a penalty try midway through the second half.
Setareki Koroilagilagi led the Fijians with 10 points from the set piece, despite missing four penalties and a conversion. Aisake Katonibau, Waisea Nayacalevu and Vereniki Goneva crossed for the islanders.
Samoa beat Tonga 20-18 earlier in the four-way competition.
Goromaru had put Japan up 9-0 by the 19th minute with three penalties, but the Fijians scored 14 unanswered points to take the halftime lead through tries by Katonibau and Nayacalevu, both converted by Koroilagilagi.
Fiji stretched its lead just one minute into the second half with a Koroilagilagi penalty, and was ahead 25-12 in the 59th minute as Goneva touched down.
The visitors gifted a penalty try two minutes past the hour. Goromaru converted to pull Japan within six, but could not further close the gap.
Japan next plays Tonga on Sunday in a rematch of the first-round affair at last year’s Rugby World Cup. The Brave Blossoms close out the tournament on June 17 against Samoa.