RSA v JPN. The stage was set. Crowd awaiting. South Africa’s springboks, expectant match winners, marched out onto the pitch. Everyone thought it would be a walkover match for the 2 times world champions. But… Easy matches in world cups aren’t really a thing, as the next 80 minutes would show.
Having never been to a rugby match before I was uncertain as what to expect. In all honestly I barely know the rules. Was I ready? Sort of. There were supporters there for both South Africa and Japan, but the large majority of people were just there for the spectacle. It was therefore no surprise that as Japan’s confidence and influence on the game began to grow, so did the crowds enthusiasm and belief that what they were witnessing was a special game.
At half time Japan went in only 2 points behind and South Africa, somewhat bewildered, followed them. The game remained close for the second half, every time South Africa went ahead they were caught almost instantly by Japan’s resilience. In the last 10 minutes with Japan behind by only 2 points chants of Japan! Japan! Japan! Reverberated around the stadium. 1 minute to go. Japan still trailing by 2 points have the ball and are launching their final assault to the tri line. South Africa holding out about 10 metres concede a penalty. Instead of taking the kick and, ensuring they scored it, drawing level with South Africa they opted for play to resume. Japan were going for the win. A draw would have been a history making result, but a win… Almost unimaginable. The clock now ticked over 80 and the game was almost up. Japan had the ball and were spreading play from one side to the other, awaiting for an opportunity to present itself. Eventually it did and Japan took it. Scoring a tri that would go down in history. A tri that won them the game. History was made.
“Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.” – Sir Winston Churchill