Rugby: Japan beat Wales, register 1st win over major rugby nation in nearly 80 years

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan made history on Saturday by beating Six Nations champions Wales 23-8 for their first ever victory over a major rugby nation in nearly 80 years of international competition.

Second-half tries from foreign-born players Craig Wing and Michael Broadhurst helped re-write the record books for Japan against a depleted Wales, who were missing their head coach and 15 players because of the British and Irish Lions tour.

Despite the unfamiliar Welsh line-up, the result is a boost for rugby in Japan, the hosts of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, who have played in all seven editions of the tournament so far but have won only once, against minnows Zimbabwe in 1991.

"I'm very proud of the team. They have created a history today to become the first Japanese team to beat a top 10 team in the world," said Japan coach Eddie Jones.

"Obviously Wales haven't the best 15 players, but today we played a very good game of Test rugby and it's another step forward for the team."

Japan played their first international fixtures in the 1930s, and they first took on a Wales XV in Cardiff in 1973. In nine full Tests with Wales, Japan have been on the wrong end of some giant scores including a 0-98 blow-out in 2004.

"I'm very happy to play the game in front of so many people. I really wanted to live up to their expectations," said Japan's captain Toshiaki Hirose.

"But this is only one win. I'm happy today, but I'll continue to work hard aiming to reach top 10 in the world."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.