• Kyodo

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Japan got its Women’s Rugby World Cup campaign off to a losing start with a 72-14 defeat to European powerhouse France on Wednesday.

Japan, ranked 14th in the world, gave up an early 22-0 lead in the first 20 minutes of the match as tries from four different players put the fourth-ranked French team in the driver’s seat at University College Dublin.

French flanker Romane Menager made some history with her match-opening try after just 14 seconds, the quickest in the history of the tournament.

In its first appearance at a World Cup since 2002, Japan finally got on the scoreboard when Mateitoga Bogidraumainadave crossed in the 25th minute, but after Mayu Shimizu’s successful conversion, Japan was unable to keep the momentum as the French side scored again to push the deficit back to 22 points at the interval.

“We didn’t have what it takes to put up a good fight against France. Their power and speed is way better. They are more experienced. But I’m not as pessimistic as what the gap in score suggests (I should be),” said Japan coach Goshi Arimizu.

Things are unlikely to get any easier for Japan in Pool C with games against Australia and host Ireland to come in the Aug. 9-26 tournament. The semifinals and final will take place in Belfast on Aug. 22 and 26, respectively.

Japan will meet Ireland, which beat Australia 19-17 in the Pool C opener, on Sunday and Australia four days later.

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