RugbyU: Japan becomes world Sevens host

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Japan will host a Sevens World Series tournament for the first time next year in a boost for rugby union in Asia, officials said Thursday.

The Japanese leg will take place a week after the iconic Hong Kong Sevens tournament at Tokyo's Prince Chichibu Stadium from March 31 to April 1, the International Rugby Board (IRB) announced.

Japan, which will also host the 15-a-side Rugby World Cup in 2019, becomes the seventh of nine stops on the expanded Sevens series. A planned test event this year was called off after March's horrific earthquake-and-tsunami disaster.

"These are extremely exciting times for rugby in Asia," said IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset.

"The IRB is committed to ensuring all the processes are in place for the continued development of the sport throughout the region so that even more men, women and children can enjoy rugby."

Japan is Asia's leading rugby power after going undefeated in four editions of the 15-a-side Asian Five Nations. In July, Japan won their first Pacific Nations Cup, raising their hopes for the World Cup in New Zealand starting next month.

Sevens World Series fixtures:

Round 1: Australia - November 25-26

Round 2: Dubai - December 2-3

Round 3: South Africa - December 9-10

Round 4: New Zealand - February 3-4

Round 5: USA - February 10-12

Round 6: Hong Kong - March 23-25

Round 7: Japan - March 31-April 1

Round 8: Scotland - May 5-6

Round 9: England - May 12-13