Published: Sun, October 20, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Japan prays for new 'miracle' in Rugby World Cup knock-outs

Japan prays for new 'miracle' in Rugby World Cup knock-outs

Either way, the 41-7 result doesn't seem to be an accurate barometer of current form, considering Japan's historic progress to a quarterfinal match against the Springboks on Sunday.

Wales scrambled into the Rugby World Cup semi-finals with a nail-biting 20-19 win over 14-man France on Sunday, as Japanese fans prayed for another chapter in the home team's fairy-tale.

The Brave Blossoms have been capturing hearts and minds across Japan and around the world and the broadcast figures show a picture of attraction, with audiences progressively building across the pool phase.

"We're under no illusions on how tough the match is going to be, we're playing a team that's won two World Cups, a very proud rugby nation".

"I was thinking of urging my teammates to shift focus but there wasn't even the need for that because they're all fired up for the South Africa game".

South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus figured the big win in Kumagaya on September 6 might mean people were less inclined to talk about Japan's shocking upset win over the Springboks at the 2015 World Cup, a 34-32 triumph that has been dubbed the "Miracle of Brighton".

If Japan's new rugby heroes only think of chopping down South Africa's giants, they will be stung on Sunday night by the elusive wing wonder who could yet be Player of the Tournament.

"Now it's a different game again".

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"In fact, I've been trying to forget about it for the last four years", Joseph said.

"Some get power or courage, some might just enjoy it as a sport, but we always try to put in a performance that can move people", hooker Shota Horie said. Joseph played against Japan in 1995 and for Japan at the '99 World Cup. It's clear due to their selection of extra forwards on the bench.

The World Cup hosts have already surpassed expectations by topping Pool A, notching up wins over Six Nations giants Ireland and Scotland, as well as Samoa and Russian Federation.

Joseph made only one injury-enforced change to its lineup to face South Africa after fullback William Tupou failed a head-injury assessment and was replaced by Ryohei Yamanaka.

- Andrew Howitt, Founder - Fantasy Rugby TVI think the Boks today will keep it in the forward, I don't think it will be too expansive. But in South Africa they are up against opponents who play New Zealand twice a year and are equipped to deal with devious attacking ploys and high-octane rugby.

Japan's excellent defence with chop tacklers and ball-thieves at the breakdown didn't just start at this tournament.

Mtawarira, lock Lood De Jager and flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit started in the loss to Japan four years ago, and are more prepared this time after the big win in the warmup-or rehearsal-in Kumagaya.

"We know what needs to be done", he said, explaining that the key to a Bok victory was controlling the pace of the game and closing down Japan's exciting outside backs. "If we don't know that already, then we are in the wrong place".

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