- By James Nadel
Japan 34 South Africa 32.. Yes, you did read that correctly it is no typo. Japan, have beaten two time world champions, South Africa. Japan, who have not won a single world cup game since 1991, and have in fact only won one world cup game in 28 years, have beaten bookies’ favorites to finish in the top 4, South Africa, Japan, Japan, have beaten South Africa, in the world cup.
When a coach has to apologise to an entire nation for the failings of his team, as Heyneke Meyer felt compelled to do after the Springboks’ discombobulating 34-32 defeat by Japan, you know things have gone more than a little bit wrong.
They say rugby is a religion in South Africa. Well, at least they got a miracle.
A miracle as great an upset as upsetting as when a team of part-time Americans beat England at the 1950 football World Cup.
Upsets of this magnitude are really not supposed to happen in rugby union, a game only played by select few nations, with an elite hand full of teams in a perpetual battle for world domination. The southern hemisphere teams are top of the pecking order with Ireland, Wales and England competing for runners up, such is the natural order of things. The last decade or so have seen the arrival of new faces on the block such as the Italian team who compete annually in the European 6 Nations, but only ever seem to be of any real concern to Scotland, the natural order preserved. Argentina was the last new face to make a lasting impression when in 2012 they joined the southern hemisphere’s, now 4, nations annual tournament.
Every four years, ‘the minnows’ are supposed to turn up at a World Cup, enjoy the festivities, take a damn good thrashing and earn a pat on the head for their efforts. Thanks for coming, off you pop, now leave it to us big beasts.