Japan’s “unique” brand of high-tempo attacking rugby will face the acid test when it runs up against the blitz defence of a tough South Africa side in Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final.
The World Cup hosts have already surpassed expectations by topping Pool A, notching up wins over Six Nations giants Ireland and Scotland, as well as Samoa and Russia.
Now the Japanese public want more, and are easily reminded of the Brave Blossoms’ pool victory over the Springboks at the 2015 World Cup, one of the sport’s biggest ever upsets.
“No we won’t be drawing on that at all,” was Japan coach Jamie Joseph’s blunt assessment when asked whether that win four years ago, when just four of today’s side started, was a motivating factor for the match at Tokyo Stadium.
South Africa (15-1)
Willie le Roux; Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (capt); Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Franco Mostert, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Francois Steyn.
Ryohei Yamanaka; Kotaro Matsushima, Timothy Lafaele, Ryoto Nakamura, Kenki Fukuoka; Yu Tamura, Yutaka Nagare; Kazuki Himeno, Pieter Labuschagne, Michael Leitch (capt); James Moore, Luke Thompson; Koo Ji-won, Shota Horie, Keita Inagaki
Replacements: Atsushi Sakate, Isileli Nakajima, Asaeli Ai Valu, Wimpie van der Walt, Amanaki Lelei Mafi, Fumiaki Tanaka, Rikiya Matsuda, Lomano Lava Lemeki
Japan vs South Africa: Rugby World Cup kick-off time and prediction
Kick off time: Perfect lunchtime fun. The action kicks off at 12:15 SAST on Sunday 20 October 2019. All the action is live on SuperSport 1.
For the RWC, we’ll be using a prediction algorithm from a New Zealand anorak.
Prediction: The algorithm is smiling on South Africa, the Boks are tipped to win by 19 points..
Source: The South African | Additional reporting by AFP/World Rugby.