Japan shock Ireland in famous Rugby Union win that lights up the tournament
Chika Mori and Kanako Itamae
Modern Tokyo Times
In the opening matches for Japan and Ireland respectively, it looked like history would repeat itself. After all, Ireland brushed aside Scotland with ease, while Japan had a labored victory against Russia. Hence, knowing that Japan had failed to beat Ireland in their previous seven encounters – and losing by an average margin of 31 points – then it appeared the writing was on the wall. However, Japan remained dogged throughout and this time they emerged victorious by 19-12 against a demoralized Ireland.
For all neutrals, the 2019 Rugby Union World Cup is finally kicking off because, in the last few days, two underdogs have won. Firstly, Uruguay beat Fiji by 30-27, and now the host nation Japan have beaten a Tier 1 powerhouse.
Of course, Japan must still focus because they have two hard matches to play in a group that is wide-open with this result. In other words, Japan must not get carried away and instead they must play to a similar level against Samoa and Scotland respectively. If so, then Japan can reach the last eight and give a huge boost to global rugby union. However, this is still conjectured because Samoa and Scotland will also believe that the door is wide open in such an open group.
Pieter Labuschagne of Japan spoke appropriately. He stated, “We are really happy, it is difficult to put it into words, just proud of every boy. That was a great game (against South Africa), but we came into this tournament with a new goal and knew what we wanted to do. We backed ourselves going into this game.”
Yet, in the early stages when Ireland led 12-3, it appeared that the Irish would turn on the screw and take the game away from Japan. Thus, it was astonishing for Japan to turn the game on its head. Indeed, in the second half Ireland couldn’t muster any points whatsoever.
On the 59th minute marker, Japan finally went in front after Kenki Fukuoka scored a try for the host nation. This lead was further enhanced when Japan kicked a penalty. After this, and just prior, it seemed that Ireland had no second game plan because the movement was limited and laborious at times.
The BBC reports, “This was not a result borne of Irish indiscipline or stage fright, but of a truly stunning Japanese performance in front of a cacophonous crowd that lifted their side with a stunning noise that greeted every meter gained, tackle made and turnover won.”
The former Irish winger, Denis Hickie, described the second half performance of Ireland perfectly. He stated, “Ireland didn’t score a point in the second half and didn’t look like scoring a point, the chances they had to put any sort of pressure on Japan they didn’t take, they had no game in the second half at all.”
Lee Jay Walker (Modern Tokyo Times) pointedly states, “On the final whistle the Japanese players rightly claimed a famous victory over Ireland. Hence, not only will this game do wonders for rugby union in Japan, it will encourage all developing teams and give fresh momentum to this amazing game.”
Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group
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