The South African Springbok will face in the quarterfinals Sunday, October 20 Japanese Cherry Blossoms.
Eleven Springbok players play or have played in Japan. They are so many"Snitches", connoisseurs of local particularities, before the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup against Cherry Blossoms, Sunday, October 20th. Among the 11, there are as many fronts, as the second line Eben Etzebeth or the number 8 Duane Vermeulen, as players of the rear lines to the image of the opening half Handré Pollard, the center Damian de Allende or the back Willie Le Roux.
All have solid financial bases to attract many stars of global rugby to compete with football and baseball, sports kings in Japan. Founded in 2003, the Japanese elite includes sixteen teams, mostly owned by major companies such as Canon, Toyota, Coca-Cola, Yamaha, Honda, Panasonic or Toshiba.
The particularity ? "The teams do everything 100 per hour: training, fitness … The guys never rest. They have a great work ethic, on and off the field "says Duane Vermeulen, who has been playing for Kubota Spears since 2018. The number 8, also played by Toulon, is one of the stars of the local championship, where the former glory of the All Blacks Dan Carter (Kobelco Steelers) is also evolving or the Australian Matt Giteau (Suntory Sungoliath).
"A very open game"
Next season, the Top League will swarm with internationals as the All Blacks like Kieran Read (Toyota Verblitz), Ryan Crotty (Kubota Spears), Sam Whitelock (Panansonic Wild Knights) or Brodie Retallick (Kobe Kobelco Steelers) responded to yen call. Like Wallabies Samu Kerevi (Suntory Sungoliath) or David Pocock (Panasonic Wild Knights), while Will Genia and Quade Cooper, not retained for the World Cup, will meet at Kintstsu Liners.
"I really enjoyed it"says South Africa's Willie Le Roux, who will return to Japan (Verblitz) after the World Cup, after playing two years at the Wasps, England. "It's a very open game. If I had to describe it, it would be like sevens rugby (play) at fifteen … Everything is going very fast, you run everywhere. Sometimes there is not too much structure, so players do a little what they want. It was pretty funnyhe adds.
For Matt Proudfoot, current assistant coach of the Springboks, the experience in Kobe has been very profitable. "There, I trained different players. We must adapt to their state of mind, understand how they work », he says, praising the adaptability of the Japanese.
"Less physical, but it's going faster"
Same story on the side of the second line Franco Mostert, who wore the jersey of the Black Rams between 2016 and 2018. "They work hard to get what they want. If you look at the Top League, the level is not very far from South Africa. It may be less physical, but it goes faster "explains the current Gloucester player in England.
With eleven players in the Top League, the Sprinboks are in the front row to watch the surge of Japanese rugby, the surprise of the 2019 World Cup. "What's better than a match against the host country? I can not wait to be there ! I play club here and I have fun: I love the country, the culture, the food, saliva Vermeulen. They announced that they wanted to play rugby thoroughly, have the ball for 50 minutes. It's bold and it's a good goal (…). In any case, they are proud of their style of play. "
The Springboks know what to expect. Especially since three Cherry Blossoms players were born in South Africa: winger Kotaro Matsushima as well as the third lines Lappies Labuschagne and Wimpie van der Walt. "I played against them in the Japanese championship but also in Super Rugby, says Vermeulen. Lappies is one of the best tacklers in the World Cup. These are guys who earned our respect every week. It's going to be complicated against them, Sunday. "