I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Japanese teams. I mean, pit’em against the Aussies and I’ll cheer for the Green’n’Gold every time, but against just about anybody else and odds are I’ll be hoping Japan pull off a win. Never been sure exactly why, mind you. Might be a bit of solidarity for a fellow Asian team (since, yeah, Australia is part of Asia), or it might just be that big old chip on our shoulders that means me and mine always support the underdog (and in a lot of the sports I care about they tend to be underdogs, also really hope that doesn’t sound patronising because it’s not meant to be). Not sure. Reckon it might be a bit of both.
So when I woke up yesterday to find out that Japan had beaten no less than South Africa (the bloody Springboks!) in the Rugby World Cup 34-32, well, I was feeling pretty damn chuffed for them. First win in the Rugby World Cup in 24 years and they’d done it by beating South Africa, one of the big countries in Rugby Union. Everyone was expecting the South Africans to stampede over the Japanese, but they wouldn’t let them, fighting hard in the scrum showing off some brilliant ball-handling. And that last try in injury time, fucking beautiful. As was the look on the Springboks player’s face after he failed to prevent it. Made my heart sing.
If my Facebook and other social media feeds are anything to go by, the rest of the world was cheering Japan on as well, ’cause fuck the Springboks if nothing else (you can’t sympathise with South African rugby teams, not matter how hard Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon try). This’ll be the game that we keep talking about long after this World Cup is over, and this Japanese team deserves to be talked about. And well done to coach Eddie Jones, you’ve helped these guys do something great.
Good on’ya guys. And good luck to you against everyone else. Except the Green’n’Gold, obviously.