Japan pulled off another Rugby World Cup shock with a fearless 19-12 win over Ireland on Sept. 28.
Japan conceded two first-half tries to the world No. 2-ranked Irish at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, but center Yu Tamura kept the Brave Blossoms in the game with three penalties to send them into halftime trailing by only three points.
Spurred on by a white-hot atmosphere from the 47,813-strong crowd, Japan then took the lead midway through the second half after a try by substitute Kenki Fukuoka, and held firm for the rest of the match to claim a stunning victory.
The result puts Japan in prime position to reach the quarterfinals for the first time, having claimed two wins out of two as of Sept. 28, and writes another glorious chapter in the team’s Rugby World Cup fairy tale after beating South Africa at the tournament four years ago.
“Internally, there was a lot of belief around what we were doing and what we were working toward,” said Japan head coach Jamie Joseph. “Obviously, the Irish team are a quality rugby side. But we have been preparing for this game for a hell of a lot longer than the Irish have. We’ve been focusing on this game for the last year, probably subconsciously for the last three years. Ireland have been thinking about us since Monday. We thought we had a little bit of an advantage in that, but we just had to execute. And the boys did.” (The Japan Times)