BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND – Japan claimed its first victory at the Women’s Rugby World Cup with a 44-5 triumph over Hong Kong on Saturday, the last day of the tournament won by New Zealand.
Japan, ranked 14th in the world, wasahead 15-0 by halftime on three tries from fullback Mayu Shimizu and wings Honoka Tsutsumi and Akari Kato against 23rd-ranked Hong Kong, and extended its lead in the 11th-place playoff’s second half including five more tries.
In the final, New Zealand defeated defending champions England 41-32 to claim its fifth overall title, while France beat the United States 31-23 to finish in third place for the second straight World Cup and sixth time in all.
Japan coach Goshi Arimizu said his side grew as a team during the tournament.
“I wouldn’t go as far as to say they broke out of their shell, but they are trying to overcome something they have never experienced before,” he said.
Captain Seina Saito said, “We focused on definitely getting a try whenever an opportunity arose and were able to do that, so I think we were able to improve ourselves.”