Japan in a pickle as they wait on coach

Japan’s players celebrate their historic, surprise victory over the Springboks in their rugby World Cup opening match at the Brighton Community Stadium yesterday. Picture: Julian Finney / Getty Images
Japan’s players celebrate their historic, surprise victory over the Springboks in their rugby World Cup opening match at the Brighton Community Stadium yesterday. Picture: Julian Finney / Getty Images

Tokyo - Japan's plans for building on their remarkable World Cup success have been thrown into chaos after the country's rugby officials failed Monday to announce an interim national team coach.

New Zealander Jamie Joseph, who represented the All Blacks at the 1995 World Cup, has been appointed as the new coach of the Brave Blossoms but will not take up his post until August, when his current job with the Highlanders ends.

The 46-year-old takes over from Australian Eddie Jones, who led Japan to three pool wins at last year's World Cup, including a sensational 34-32 win over two-time world champions South Africa - the biggest upset in the tournament's history.

Japan's new director of rugby Masahiro Kunda confirmed that Japan would likely be without an interim when they host Scotland for a two-test series on June 18 and 25.

"We are still working on it," he told reporters.

"There is a process and all we can say is we are looking at various options."

Japan's involvement in the Asian Rugby Championship, which kicks off in April, is also set to take place under a cloud of uncertainty.

New Zealander Mark Hammett, recently named coach of Japan's new Super Rugby franchise the Sunwolves, has been touted as a possible candidate to fill in until Joseph's arrival.

Jones, who has since taken over as England coach, narrowly fell short of his bold quarter-final target at the World Cup, remarkable progress for a team who had only ever won once in the sport's showcase tournament, against tiny Zimbabwe in 1991.

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