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Japan seeking to stand out from the crowd

The Japanese Rugby Union set to launch campaign to select team nicknames for its women’s rugby sides.

The search for a slogan is an effort to push the women’s teams exposure up, with the JRFU hoping that the public can connect with its women’s sides in a way it has done with the very popular women's "Nadeshiko" World Cup Champion and 2012 Olympic bronze medal football team.

The Japanese women’s football side receives huge coverage and won the best and most popular sports team categories at the Japan Sports Awards in 2011.

The Japanese women’s sides have also secured a new sponsor with energy drink brand Lipovitan D, and Taiyo Life Insurance coming on board – two brands well associated already with Japanese rugby.

The Japanese women’s XV squad has been chosen for the season with a group of 42 players taking part in Asian qualifiers later this year in a bid to reach the 2014 World Cup.

Japan also named a 14 player squad to take part in two international Sevens tournaments in Houston and Los Vegas. Japan have named a slightly larger fourteen player squad since they'll be taking part in Las Vegas as well. The team is largely unchanged with Chiharu Nakamura retaining the captaincy after playing a very limited role in the RWC7s qualifiers in Pune, India last year. Pint-sized playmaker Yoko Suzuki heads back to Las Vegas where she made her debut last year and try-scoring ace Marie Yamaguchi is also included. The changes come in the form of Ano Kuwai (Rugirl-7s), Emi Ito (Nagoya Ladies), Aya Takeuchi and Noriko Taniguchi (both Setagaya Ladies).

Ano Kuwai, who is debuting for the Sevens team has come over from being a discus thrower.

WRWC 2014 Qualifying Japan Extended Training Squad: Chikako Sasaki, 41yrs, Setagaya Ladies (Tokyo), Angela Elting, 39, Phoenix (Yokohama), Ayumi Inui, 35, Hyogo Rugby School Ladies (Kobe), Takako Matusdaira, 34, TKM7 (Yokohama), Mami Okada, 32, Nagoya Ladies, Tsukasa Tsujimoto, 32, SCIX (Kobe), Maki Ito, 28, Nagoya Ladies, Akari Fujisaki, 28, Rugirl-7 (Yokohama), Aya Takeuchi, 26, Setagaya Ladies, Sayaka Yamamoto, 26, Nagoya Ladies, Nobuko Noge, 26, Osaka Rugby School Ladies, Yuka Katashima, 23, Rugirl-7, Ano Kuwai, 23, Rugirl-7, Azusa Yama, 22, Setagaya Ladies, Akari Hayashi, 21 Setagaya Ladies/Tokai University mens club, Manami Ichinohe, 21, Ryutsu Keizai University (Ryugasaki, Ibaraki Province), Anri Kawano, 20, Juntendo University mens club (Tokyo), Misaki Suzuki, 20, Kanto Gakuin University mens club (Yokohama), Chisato Yokoo, 20, Setagaya Ladies, Seina Saito, 20, Abeno Hollies (Osaka), Kana Mitsugi, 20, Rissho University mens club (Tokyo), Kie Tamai, 20, Osaka Rugby School Ladies/Kansai Gakuin University mens club*, Yuki Sue, 19, Setagaya Ladies/Tokyo Gakukei University mens club*, Megumi Hoshino, 19, Japan P.E. University womens team (Yokohama), Yuka Kanematsu, 30, Nagoya Ladies, Yuki Nakao, 28, Osaka Rugby School Ladies*. Emi Ito, 27, Nagoya Ladies, Chika Oshima, 27, Rugirl-7, Chiharu Nakamura, 24, Phoenix, Keiko Kato, 24, Setagaya Ladies, Ayaka Suzuki, 23, Rissho University mens club, Marie Yamaguchi, 23, Rugirl-7, Ikumi Suzuki, 22, TKM7, Emi Kamimura, 22, TKM7, Mio Suzuki, 22, Japan PE University womens team, Chikami Inoue, 21, Ryutsu Keizai University, Makiko Tomita, 21, Setagaya Ladies, Niina Hara, 20, Rugirl-7/Takushoku University mens club (Tokyo), Yui Higuchi, 20, Japan PE University womens team*, Noriko Taniguchi, 20, Setagaya Ladies/Tokyo Gakukei University mens club, Yuka Yamanaka, 19, Hyogo Rugby School Ladies, Yume Okuroda, 19, Municipal Funabashi Senior High School (Chiba Province)*

* First time selection in a Japan fifteens squad

Japan Squad for Houston Women’s Sevens World Series and Las Vegas Invitational: Emi Ito, 28, Nagoya Ladies, Aya Takeuchi, 26, Setagaya Ladies (Tokyo), Chiharu Nakamura, 24, Phoenix (Yokohama) (c), Keiko Kato, 24, Setagaya Ladies, Ayaka Suzuki, 23, Rissho University (Tokyo), Yuka Katashima, 23, Rugirl-7s (Yokohama), Ano Kuwai, 23, Rugirl-7s, Marie Yamaguchi, 23, Rugirl-7s, Chikami Inoue, 21, Ryutsu Keizai University (Ryugasaki, Ibaraki Province), Makiko Tomita, 21, Setagaya Ladies, Misaki Suzuki, 20, Kanto Gakuin University (Yokohama), Chisato Yokoo, 20, Setagaya ladies, Noriko Taniguchi, 20, Setagaya Ladies, Yoko Suzuki, 19, Rissho University

"The Japanese women’s sides have also secured a new sponsor with energy drink brand Lipovitan D, and Taiyo Life Insurance coming on board."