x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Kirwan wants UAE to play in Japan

The Japan coach believes UAE rugby would benefit from entering the national team into Japan's top domestic league.

DUBAI // John Kirwan, the Japan coach, believes UAE rugby would benefit from entering the national team into Japan's top domestic league.

The UAE face the toughest test of their season on Friday when they meet Japan, Asia's top-ranked side, in the Asian Five Nations at The Sevens.

As a marker of the disparity between Japan and the rest of the continent, success for the UAE would be represented simply by a reduction in the margin of defeat the last time side's met.

Playing as the Arabian Gulf, the region's representative side lost 60-5 in Tokyo last year. That was a vast improvement on the previous game, when the UAE shipped more than 100 points.

Japan have never been beaten in the Five Nations, a tournament which started in 2008, and Kirwan, the former All Black, insists his side can help improve the level of competition in Asia.

"For me, part of my strategic plan for Japan is that we have an Asia-wide competition," he said ahead of Japan's first training session in Dubai last night.

"The future is through competition. Five years ago we lost to Tonga 60-0 in the Pacific Nations Cup.

"The last three years we have beaten them, and that is because we play them every year."

He added: "I want to see a team from Hong Kong and a team from Korea in our domestic competition. [The Japan players] play hard football week in week out.

"I think the UAE could be the first team that could go in, because there might be someone here who could come up with the funding.

"We need to get better through competition. If we can get a team from here that play in our competition every week, the UAE are not going to be worried playing our guys. They will be playing at the same level every week."

 

TV listings, s14