• Kyodo

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Kensuke Iwabuchi, the director of high performance for the national sevens teams, was named new head coach for the men’s side, the Japan Rugby Football Union said Monday.

The 42-year-old Iwabuchi will take over the job from Damian Karauna, whose contract expires at the end of this month. Iwabuchi will manage the side from June 1, likely until the end of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I want to bring huge results by doing my best on the field,” he said. “I want to take this job with determination.”

After playing with both the national sevens and the 15s teams, he helped the 15s team to victories in three matches at the 2015 Rugby World Cupin England.

The sevens finished fourth at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. But the JRFU has struggled to convince players to sign a contract which requires them to commit exclusively to playing sevens, the Olympic rugby format, due to it being less lucrative and prestigious than the more established 15-a-side format.

“I want to increase the number of players who (make it a priority to) play in the sevens. I want to share the attractions and values of playing, and hope to work with players who agree with them,” Iwabuchi said.

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