Just when it seemed that Georgia beating Tonga was the upset of the day, Saturday’s 34-32 victory by Japan over two-time World Champions South Africa will go down as one of the greatest sporting upsets of all time. Catch up on the highlights, celebrations and more now.
The Twittersphere went into overdrive yesterday as hardcore fans and casual observers came together to celebrate a tremendous sporting achievement. Even JK Rowling tweeted about it.
Japan’s composure throughout the match, and indeed in the final few minutes, has been called New Zealand-esque, and their courage and strength has gone a long way towards earning them thousands of new fans.
It’s perfectly timed too, with the next Rugby World Cup being hosted in Japan in 2019. “There are kids at home who will want to play rugby at the next World Cup now,” said Eddie Jones.
While the Springboks are usually strong enough to play badly and still win against ‘lesser teams’, they obviously underestimated what the Japanese were capable of.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has apologised to the nation, while captain Jean De Villiers, who along with a host of senior players has only just come back from injury, said that he’s not sure what happened.
“I think this is just one of those performances where, we can’t really put our finger on it why we lost, but we were beaten by a better team on the day.”
The Brave Blossoms face Scotland on Wednesday, and the Scots will no doubt have been shaken up by this shock result. It sets up Pool B fantastically, throwing a spanner in the works in what was considered a group that wouldn’t be as competitive as Group A, for example.
Japan are coached by Australian Eddie Jones, the genius tactitian who outsmarted the All Blacks in the 2003 Rugby World Cup semi final with the Wallabies, and then came within inches of winning the tournament, if it were not for a certain Jonny Wilkinson.
Jones then picked up a RWC winners medal a few years later, when he was part of Jake White’s Springbok team who won the tournament in 2007. It was a masterstroke from White to bring him in then, and now Japan are reaping the benefits of the no-nonsense coach, who actually has a Japanese mother.
The highlights below show the biggest moments of the match, and you can watch a few more of the celebrations, as well as the post match chat with coach Jones, on the next page.