The original plan was to feature Springbok matches on the front page of each issue of your newsletter during the RWC2019. But the fantastic performance by Japan in the Pool A clash with Ireland forced a rethink and we’ve now decided to feature the most remarkable match of the past week instead.
Which brings us neatly back to the incredible match that took place in Fukuroi City last Saturday. Going into the encounter, bookmakers were giving odds of 11-1 on the Japanese to win.
But the Japanese were much better than that. Captained by our very own Lappies Labuschagné, the home team were really fired up for this game but Ireland were the first to score – a try in the corner, unconverted – but the home side struck back almost immediately with a penalty.
The Irish followed up with a second try to lead 12-3 after about 30 minutes. Then something changed in the attitude of the home team as they gradually crept back into the match, building the enthusiasm of the crowd in the process.
At half-time the Japanese still trailed by three points and after the break they kept chipping away at the lead to eventually finish 19-12 winners. It was an absolutely fantastic result that could have been even bigger – Japan missed two penalty kicks and very nearly scored a second try in the closing minutes. For us, perhaps the most remarkable thing was that Japan kept the Irish scoreless for 50 consecutive minutes.
That was a mammoth effort and the Japanese now have a very real chance of finishing top of Pool A – if they can beat Samoa and Scotland.
And, if the home side should be successful in finishing on top of Pool A, it will quite likely result in a quarter-final appointment with the winner of the clash between the Springboks vs Italy on Friday, just before midday (SA time).
[We’re not counting poultry in this newsroom; South Africa has lost to Italy before – Ed]
“Holy Schmidt guys. But can we please stop calling them the ‘Brave Blossoms’ because that is a [condescending] term that [means] you keep trying even when you lose. From now on we call them the ‘Brilliant Blossoms’ or the ‘Breakneck Blossoms’.”