Japanese hopes shattered by South Africans

In spite of their efforts and their always enthusiastic game, the Japaneses never really could compete with the South-Africans, much more powerful.
In spite of their efforts and their always enthusiastic game, the Japaneses never really could compete with the South-Africans, much more powerful. Eugene Hoshiko / AP

There was no second miracle. Sunday, October 20, Tokyo was not Brighton. If the Japanese team had created a surprise in the little world of world rugby at the previous World Cup in England in 2015, dominating South Africa in the group stage, the Brave Blossoms – nickname of Japanese players – could not repeat, in the quarterfinals of the 2019 World Cup, their feat against the same South Africans.

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Despite their efforts and their always exciting game, they never really could compete with their opponents, much more powerful. They lost 26-3, letting the Springboks qualify for the semi-finals against Wales on 27 October in Yokohama.

After the match, the Japanese coach, Jamie Joseph, announced his "Immense pride" for what his team accomplished. "We did everything to win but today the South African team was really strong.said the captain, real star, Michael Leitch. I thank our fans from the bottom of my heart. "

The uncertainty lasted only half-time

The fervor in Tokyo stadium while red and white and "Nippon, Nippon" chanted by the public were not enough. After the match, the disappointment was visible and the Japanese team made a long tour of the field to thank a public of the most faithful and in tears this Sunday evening.

The stadium broadcast what has become a hit accompanying the Japanese team: "Uma to shika" (The horse and the fallow deer), theme song of a television series entitled No side game, focused on rugby and had record track records before the World Cup.

"It's sad, but somewhere, it's pretty normal", observed a fan. The uncertainty lasted only half-time. The South Africans put their hand on the game from the first scrum in the 4th minute, which brought their first try, by winger Makazole Mapimpi. But, taking advantage of a yellow card delivered to the South African pillar Tendai Mtawarira, Brave Blossoms then developed their game licked and fast, made of cross passes and duplication, disrupting Springboks

Not to the point of giving up these however. The defenses being tight, and the two teams relying on the game, with strong candles, the first half ended on the score of 5 to 3 for the Springboks.

Physical domination

The tone was totally different in the second half. As soon as the recovery took place, the South Africans settled in the Japanese camp and almost left it. They had penalties that allowed them to dig their advantage.

After the 60th minute, it was the South African physical domination that made the difference. At the 65th, on a touch, we saw the South African pack progress of more than 30 meters, and clear the way for a try of scrum half Faf de Klerk, designated player of the match.

The Japanese no longer went out of their camp and cashed two more tests. Several players were coming out on injury. Japan's Ferraris, Kotaro Matsushima and Kenki Fukuoka, have never been able to pass the top speed.

"It was a big rush of energy for us to go on fighting, but I have to congratulate the guys, we fought hard and we finally got there," said Captain Springbok, Siya Kolisi.

Creating a professional league

Japan is coming out of the world, having achieved its goal of qualifying for the quarterfinals, a first. Through their fast, exciting and generous game, the Brave Blossoms have dominated opponents as prestigious as Ireland and Scotland in the group stage and managed to win the enthusiasm of a whole country.

The television audiences of their matches surpassed all records. For the meeting against Scotland on October 13th, the NTV channel reached not less than 53.7% of audience shares, or 54.8 million viewers. The four pool matches of Japan now occupy the top four places in the Japanese TV ratings.

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"These figures, which reflect the power of sport to unite a nation, signal Japan's awakening to rugby in the wake of heroic Brave Blossoms that have marked the world's minds."welcomed, on 19 October, World Rugby President Bill Beaumont.

The success of the national team is also promising, paving the way for the creation of a professional league that should attract significant sponsors and allow it to settle permanently in the top of the world rankings. "Japanese rugby is in a good position today with an incredible team", was able to congratulate Jamie Joseph.

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