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.
- 1 'Women should not laugh in public,' says Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in morality speech
- 2 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 3 Is Ebola coming to Britain? UK health officials issue warning to doctors as outbreak fears grow
- 4 Richard Dawkins says 'date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse' on Twitter
- 5 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc