Defies odds at Rugby World Cup . . .
The Japanese rugby team has made history at Rugby World Cup 2019 by becoming the first Asian team to qualify for the tournament’s quarter finals. Ranked ninth in the world before the tournament, the ‘Brave Blossoms’ dispatched Russia, followed up by a gruelling upset of second-ranked Ireland, an impressive win over Samoa, and a tense 28-21 win over Scotland. A fitting achievement indeed for the tournament’s host nation. While the team has qualified for every Rugby World Cup since the inaugural quadrennial tournament in 1987, its lifetime record prior to this year stands at four wins, two draws (both against Canada in 2007 and 2011) and 22 defeats. Japanese rugby jerseys are all but sold out in Tokyo. All of this took place as Typhoon Hagibis lashed the country, claiming over 70 lives and causing widespread destruction.
Next up, South Africa . . .
Japan’s opponents in the quarter-finals are the high-achieving South Africans. But Japan’s uncompromising style of play, characterized by hard tackling and audacious, speedy attacks, could unsettle the favoured ‘Springboks.’ One of Japan’s few Rugby World Cup wins was four years ago over South Africa, in what is commonly thought of as the biggest upset in world rugby. Could 2019 see Japan repeat an unlikely victory over one of world rugby’s favourites to reach the semi finals? Canadians wanting to watch the Japan-South Africa game live will need to set their alarm clocks – the match kicks off Sunday at 3:15 a.m. PT / 6:15 a.m. ET.
Canada impresses off the field . . .
While the Canadian team fought hard on the field, it was largely outclassed against some of the best teams in the world, with its last match against unheralded Namibia cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis’ destruction. The area around Kamaishi City, where Canada was due to play Namibia, was under an evacuation order. The Canadian team, however, won friends off the field by helping with post-Typhoon clean-up efforts in Kamaishi. “It speaks about our character . . . but also it's more important about us being good humans as well,” said Canadian team member Dustin Dobravsky.