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Japan shifts focus over to Rugby World Cup preparation against France

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Japan looks to Rugby World Cup preparation against France

Japan will confront a significant milestone in its preparation for the next year’s Rugby World Cup on Saturday when it faces Cup hosts France in the first of two test matches.

Head coach Jamie Joseph said Japan is “clearly behind” in its Cup preparation because of the pandemic which diminished to a trickle in its schedule of international games.

A 43-7 win over Uruguay at the last end of the week showed Japan is as yet capable of playing high-quality rugby. The two-test series against France will furnish Joseph and Japan with a reasonable proportion of their position somewhat more than a year out from the World Cup.

Japan accomplished a portion of its best-ever international outcomes when it hosted the 2019 World Cup, beating Scotland and Ireland in pool play to qualify unbeaten for the knockout rounds. A shortage of matches since has made it challenging for Japan to build on those outcomes.

“One of the biggest challenges that I’ve faced since the World Cup in 2019, like a lot of other people around the world in sporting teams, is the pandemic,” Joseph said in naming his squad for the Uruguay and France tests. “The first year we had no rugby, last year we played seven games and so we are clearly behind in terms of our development.”

Joseph said the three home Tests this year would allow Japan the opportunity to test new players and “grow depth in all positions.”

He has rolled out six changes from the team which beat Uruguay for the primary test against France which probably will be played in hot circumstances at the Toyota Stadium in Aichi Prefecture. The match starts off at 3 p.m. neighborhood time when the temperature is supposed to be around 34 degrees Celsius (93 Fahrenheit).

Six Nations champion France will probably test Japan front and center. Joseph has reviewed South Africa-born Wimpie van der Walt in the second row where he will combine with the youthful Australia-born lock, Jack Cornelsen. Atsushi Sakate will captain Japan for the second time at hooker.

“The first thing we have to do is match their set piece or better it,” Joseph said. “They’re very strong in the lineout and at scrum time and they play a power game. This is what France will bring to the match and we’ve got to be able to handle that.”

France likewise will utilize the series to develop new players with an eye to the World Cup.

“Given the calendar and the (demands on) the players, we tried to select players who were fresh, who were available, mentally, physically and who were the best on the ranking that we hold,” coach Fabien Galthie said.

“This tour is an incubator for French rugby.”

Rugby World Cup Lineups:

Japan Lineups: Taichi Takahashi.Gerhard van nook Heever, Shogo Nakano, Siosaia Fifita, Takuya Yamasawa, Kaito Shigeno; Tevita Tatafu, Ben Gunter, Michael Leitch, Asaeli Ai Valu, Ryohei Yamanaka, Atsushi Sakate (commander), Daiki Nakajima, Wimpie van der Walt, Keita Inagaki. Saves: Ryuga Hashimoto, Yukio Morikawa, Shinnosuke Kakinaga, Dylan Riley, Warner Dearns, Jack Cornelsen, Lua Makisi, Lee Seung-Shin,

France Lineups: Damian Penaud, Virimi Vakatawa, Yoram Moefana, Matthis Lebel, Matthieu Jalibert, Maxime Lucu; Yoan Tanga Mangene, Dylan Cretin, Charles Ollivon, Thomas Jolmes, Thibaud Flament, Demba Bamba, Melvyn Jaminet, Peato Mauvaka, Jean-Baptize Gros. Saves: Pierre Bourgarit, Dany Priso, Sipili Falatea, Thomas Lavault, Selevasio Tolofua, Sekou Macalou, Baptiste Couilloud, Antoine Hastoy.

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