Host Japan stunned Ireland 19-12 in an extraordinary upset on Saturday, September 28, to win their second match of the Rugby World Cup in Shizuoka, giving them a strong chance of reaching the knockout stages for the first time.
The Brave Blossoms came from behind at Shizuoka Stadium to beat a side recently ranked World number one in a shock to match their victory over twice world champions South Africa at the 2015 World Cup.
Tries from Garry Ringrose and Rob Kearney saw Ireland lead at the break, although three Yu Tamura penalties kept the game to within one score.
Replacement Kenki Fukuoka dived over in the corner on 59 minutes to put the Brave Blossoms in front. Tamura’s 72nd-minute penalty sealed a monumental win.
Not since Japan’s win over South Africa four years ago in Brighton has rugby witnessed a result that will resound around the world in the way this one will.
Rugby World Cup took to Twitter congratulating the Japanese team, “UNBELIEVABLE! On home turf, Japan have achieved an incredible win over Ireland! Shizuoka is rocking!”
Irish Rugby also congratulated the winning team in a tweet, “Congratulations Japan @JRFURugby – worthy winners today with an incredible performance and amazing support. Thanks to our own fans who cheered us to the last – wonderful as always..”
Japanese Team captain Pieter Labuschagne gave a humble interview after historic first win over Ireland. He said, “It’s difficulty to put into words, just really proud of the boys…”
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 metre gained, tackle made and turnover won.
It is a result that will, regardless of what happens in the next six weeks of rugby, leave a legacy for generations to come, and will send rugby into a new stratosphere of popularity within the country.