Japan will compete in WXV 2 in South Africa later this year after winning’s Sunday’s Asia Rugby Women’s Championship 2023 final.

The Sakura 15s, who included England’s former head coach Simon Middleton amongst their staff, ran in 11 tries in an emphatic 72-0 victory in Almaty.

While Japan will take their place in WXV 2 alongside Scotland, runners-up Kazakhstan join Ireland in WXV 3.

Kazakhstan 0-72 Japan

Japan recorded their biggest test win in over nine years and their third highest of all time as their speed of movement proved too much for Kazakhstan in Almaty.

The home crowd were very vocal in their support for Kazakhstan but moments to cheer were few and far between as Japan wasted no time in stamping their mark on the match.

Number eight Ayano Nagai went over in the third minute and impressive fly-half Ayasa Otsuka slotted the first of three touchline conversions.

Otsuka then added a penalty before Nagai went over again thanks to some ineffective tackling. With the conversion, Japan were 17-0 up inside 12 minutes.

More quick ball led to try number three, scored by Komachi Imakugi, and she was joined on the scoresheet shortly after by fellow winger, Kotono Yasuo, after a pinpoint crossfield kick from Otsuka.

Kazakhstan had plenty of visits into the Japan 22 but mistakes at the lineout and handling errors meant they came away empty-handed each time.

Tries from tight-head Wako Kitano and outside centre Mana Furuta followed before a 50/22 on the stroke of half-time led to a try by inside centre Yuki Paraki, which was again converted by Otsuka, for a 46-0 lead at the interval.

It only took four minutes of the second half for Yasuo to cross for her second, from a  quick tap penalty, and Imakugi almost joined her in getting a brace but was penalised for a double movement in the act of grounding the ball.

Forwards Masami Kawamura and Ayano Sakurai were next to get their names on the scoresheet but the rate of scoring was slowed by a heavy rain shower and a Kazakhstan team that refused to give up.

With 10 minutes to go, Japan scored their 11th and final try when replacement hooker, Ayumu Kokaji, broke off the back of another powerful maul and Otsuka slotted her seventh conversion.

A couple of strong runs from replacement back Ludmila Sherer apart, Kazakhstan found it difficult to impose themselves on the well-organised Sakura 15s defence but they stuck to their task and no further points were conceded.

Photo credit: Asia Rugby