Japan beaten in emotional opener
Saturday 26 March 2011
Japan lost their opening match at the Hong Kong Sevens yesterday to the United States but the players were feted like winners and their coach said he hoped they could help inspire their country's recovery from the earthquake and tsunami.
Japan, long shots for the title, entered Hong Kong Stadium wearing black armbands in memory of the more than 10,000 killed in this month's disasters and were greeted by thunderous applause from the crowd. The coaching staff carried a national flag on which was written "Pray for Japan".
But the empathy of the 40,000 spectators could not quite carry Japan to victory. Twice they rallied in the first half to go in at half-time level at 12-12, and fought valiantly in the second half, but even with a last-minute converted try Japan lost 24-19.
England outclassed China 59-5, with Ben Gollings adding to his all-time leading sevens points record with a try and seven conversions.
New Zealand have also made an emotionally charged trip to Hong Kong, following the Christchurch earthquake last month that claimed 182 lives.
The Kiwis produced an impressive display against an overwhelmed South Korea, winning 61-0 and laying down a marker as they seek a 10th Hong Kong title. Buxton Popoalii scored 26 points from two tries and eight conversions.
"Not conceding a try was pleasing," the New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens said. "In sevens rugby anything can happy so it's important to get out and get a lot of confidence.
"I firmly believe that you set the standard for the tournament by your first game. It looks good going into tomorrow."
There was a perfect start, too, for the defending champions Samoa, who breezed past tournament newcomers Mexico 64-0.
Mario Balotelli scored as many goals for AC Milan on second debut as he did for Liverpool in the Premier League last season
Cyprus vs Wales match report: Gareth Bale's bullet header has Welsh on brink of Euro 2016
Jose Mourinho: Chelsea manager has four Guinness World records hanging in his office
Manchester United will pay Monaco £7.2m extra if Anthony Martial scores 25 goals in four years as deal could rise to incredible £58m
Pedro hits outs at Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal for treatment of Victor Valdes
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 3 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 4 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 5 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees