THE thousand year legend of Japanese honour and resilience is the pride of the Asian nation after Typhoon Hagibis that was followed up by an earthquake ravaged the country could not stop Japan on its march to the 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.
Defeating the odds of nature in the spirit of Banzai the world rugby sun now rose in the land of the rising sun with Japan gaining millions of followers and fans when in its wake of the world cup onslaught they slew giants like Ireland, a firm favourite for this year’s rugby world cup final and another six nation hopeful, Scotland with 28 – 21.
The spirit of the Japanese team and their supporters could not be dampened by the fact that the country deployed almost 30 000 troops to help clear the devastation left by the typhoon. At least 33 people lost their lives and almost half a million residents of the country were left without power as a result of the storm.
The Japanese victory eliminated Scotland at the pool stage for only the second time in the history of the tournament.
The Scots needed to beat their opponents with at least four points to progress to the last eight.
Finn Russell’s try put them in the lead early in the match but clinical rugby and continuous sniping by the Japanese back line put them in them 21 – 7 in the lead at the half time whistle.
Kotaro Matsushima, Keita Inagaki and Kenki Fukuoka all crossed before half-time. Fukuoka blasted over the line for a second time to secure Japan’s first ever quarter-final.
The Japanese will face former champions South Africa in Tokyo in the quarter final next Sunday.
Scotland was forced to go for broke in the contest that had been in doubt only hours before kick-off because of the effects of Typhoon Hagibis.
The Scots scored in quick succession through WP Nel and Zander Fagerson after the break. The second-half rally was not enough to break the spirit of the Japanese and prevent their eventual defeat.
Japan’s victory means that Ireland finished as the runners-up in Pool A. The men from the Emerald Isle will face New Zealand in the last eight in Tokyo next Saturday.
Welsh will face the French in the last eight
Earlier on Sunday Wales laboured to a 35 – 13 bonus-point victory over minnows Uruguay to set up a World Cup quarter-final against France.
Wales only led 7 – 6 at the end of the first half which was littered with handling errors. The only try of the half came from prop Nicky Smith.
Josh Adams’ fifth score in Japan and a penalty try extended the advantage, only for German Kessler to drive over.
Replacements Tomos Williams and Gareth Davies both crossed to seal the bonus point as Wales topped Pool D.
They only needed two points to do so – thanks to their head-to-head record against Australia – but this result also means they have won all of their World Cup group matches for the first time since the inaugural tournament in 1987.
Eagles downed by Tonga
Tonga came from behind to deservedly beat the United States 31 – 19 in their final Pool C game and earn their first win of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Siegfried Fisiihoi opened the scoring but the USA took control with two tries from replacement winger Mike Te’o.
Sontane Takulua’s penalty reduced the deficit, before Mali Hingano scored a runaway try to put Tonga in the lead.
Departing captain, Siale Piutau sealed the victory and Telusa Veainu scored late on, after a Tony Lamborn consolation try.
Tonga’s play was dominant throughout but mistakes prevented them from winning by a greater margin.
Lamborn grounded the ball against the posts to claim a try and bring the Eagles to within five points.
But with just seconds remaining, Piutau opted for the scrum rather than kicking for goal – and the move paid off as Veainu latched on to Latiume Fosita’s kick to score with the final play, before Piutau signed off with the conversion.
Defeat for the United States was their 10th consecutive World Cup loss, while Tonga ended their run of five tournament defeats.