15 Sep 2011

No repeat of 1995 humiliation, Kirwan predicts

7:57 pm on 15 September 2011

Japan's coach, former All Black winger John Kirwan is confident there will not be a repeat of the 1995 World Cup result when Japan suffered humiliation at the hands of the All Blacks.

The Brave Blossoms face the All Blacks at Hamilton on Friday evening in only the second time the two sides have played each other in a World Cup.

In the first encounter, in South Africa 16 years ago, the All Blacks won 145-17, the highest score ever in a World Cup match.

It also produced several other records, including: most points in a World Cup match by one player, which went to Simon Culhane for his score of 45; and most tries in a match by one player, with Marc Ellis scoring six.

John Kirwan says the same won't happen again, given the improvement in the structure of Japanese rugby since 1995.

He says a stronger domestic league and inclusion in the Pacific Nations Cup over the past five years has also helped raise the standard of the game in Japan.

Japan, ranked 13th in the world, won their first Pacific Nations title this year heading off Samoa, Tonga and Fiji in the process.

In their opening match of this year's tournament Japan lost 47-21 to France.