Japan have been a firm fan favourite for many years now thanks to their exciting style of play, incredible underdog feats, and impeccable rugby values. Well, captain Michael Leitch has no doubt gained more supporters after his exploits on Sunday night as Leitch went full-on Alex Goode in the centre of Nantes.
Japan had sadly just lost their final pool stage match of the World Cup to Argentina, seeing them exit the competition one stage earlier than they did in the 2019 version of the competition.
You only need to look back to Japan’s campaign in 2011 to understand the growth this Japanese side has taken over the past few years. In that version the national side were short of structure and Tier 1 influence, completing their campaign with just the one draw against Canada to shout about.
Fast forward to 2015 under the tutelage of Eddie Jones – Japan completed the greatest upset of all against South Africa, beating them 32-34 in incredible scenes in Brighton. Their rise continued through to 2019 in Japan as they hosted the World Cup and proceeded to win their pool stage beating the likes of Scotland and Ireland in the process.
One constant of all four tournaments mentioned is charismatic captain Michael Leitch. The legend was seen relaxing with fans and friends in a French bar following what was expected to be his final ever World Cup match.
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