The morning session started with a pretty full stadium to watch Japan take on France. A bit like our game yesterday, France were in the game until half time but then Japan upped the pace and came out winners by 51-42 points. Up next was Canada v Australia with world number one Australia predictably taking a win by 61-54 points. By the time we came to play our game against world ranked number 10 Brazil, the stadium had cleared of the spectators. It was a pretty flat game to be honest and as you would expect by the relative team rankings, we won comfortably 57-35. Very sensibly the Head Coach ran his lines again but spared some of the players, who will be needed for the big games to come, from much of the court time. I’m not sure we learnt much from the game though interestingly Julio Braz of Brazil didn’t let us have it all our own way; he battled strongly, was evasive and forced a few errors which we will have to avoid in the games to come. In the final game of the day the USA took the Wheel Blacks on and chalked an easy win 60-40.
So tomorrow is the final group games for all teams and we play world number 2 and host nation Japan. The match has only limited tournament relevance in that both teams have already qualified for the cross-over game on Saturday and whoever wins that is likely to play either Australia or USA. It is an important game though, in that momentum plays a big part in tournament success. The organisers are telling us that the venue is sold out, and it is being covered by live TV in Japan. In this tournament we have yet to be tested and the time has now come and we are all very excited about it.
Other news today is that I was really pleased to host Martyn Phillips, CEO of Wales Rugby Union, who made the effort to stop off with his wife en route to Oita and Wales’ quarter final against France to watch us play Brazil. It was a huge pleasure to chat to him and to sense his genuine interest in the game. It is easy to understand why wheelchair rugby is having such a big resurgence in Wales and fantastic to see it in the WRU strategic plan. Thank you also to Karoru Kobori, James Carter and Eiko Heffer, all from the British Embassy in Tokyo, who came along to support. Finally for today… if you think that we are sending back some great images then you would be right. A huge thank you to Megumi Masuda who I met in Chiba last year and have kept in contact with since. Meg is a sports photographer and has taken this week from her busy job in finance in Tokyo to act as our photographer on a voluntary basis – thank you so much!