Rugby World Cup – Japan winning more than games

FUKUROI, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 28: Ireland player Joey Carbery (l) looks on as the Japan team celebrate victory on the final whistle after the Rugby World Cup 2019 Group A game between Japan and Ireland at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa on September 28, 2019 in Fukuroi, Shizuoka, Japan. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Hosting your own Rugby World Cup leaves you with several burdens. One, you have to perform reasonably well and two, you have to engage the wider audience into your spectacle.

This is easier said than done, especially for a country that takes a lot to remove sumo wrestling from the headlines – something Japan’s opening game did.

Japan winning games central to everything

We start off on the field. Winning games is crucial to keeping any fans happy. The diehards will follow wherever they lead but wider public interest requires them to do well and find a reason to support them.

An expected win over Russia slowly got the cauldron bubbling but the shock Ireland victory in Shizuoka ignited the fire beneath.

Fans finally became one and partied in the streets as if their side had won the thing – Can you blame them?

Fans fully engaged

Japan won hearts in 2015 by defeating the Springboks in Brighton. To replicate that, on similar level, albeit as part of a more dominant performance is something else.

Fan zones came together, streets stopped to watch, children found a new generation as a nation bound as one to defeat the world’s number two ranked team.

A country has created a fresh crop of heroes and a brand new generation have been immersed in the sport of rugby.

Hearts won more important than points

Ok, you have to earn points to win the hearts but hear me out.

Japan isn’t a rugby nation despite the headlines. As fans, players, journalists and others we all want to see the game grow. In order for this to happen in Japan they need to win, yes but gaining the hearts and minds at times this like build a foundation for the future.

To create these opportunities you need players and only by becoming inspired now will generations to come be able to compete at this level.

Success breeds inspiration and Japan is inspired.

To see so many fans – native or otherwise – out on the streets celebrating with such pride and joy is a spectacle.

A new generation inspired, 2023, you best be ready for another Brave Blossoms display at a Rugby World Cup.

Winning games as knockouts await

Taking nine out of 10 points available and winning both opening games certainly primes Japan for knockout rugby.

Scotland look out of sorts and Samoa are usually limited if you overhaul their physical attributes.

You can’t look past Japan topping the pool and setting up a mouth watering tie replicating their 2015 upset tie, against South Africa.

For the host to progress past the group stages isn’t unusual. Only England have failed to do so whilst being a sole host but this wasn’t expected of Japan, a so-called Tier Two nation.

If the winning rugby continues a lot more hearts will melt for the hosts, and a lot more scalps will be taken.

 

“Main photo credit”

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