Japan 34 – South Africa 32

Underdogs defeat overdogs

Did I ever think I’d find myself shouting GO ON JAPAN?

No.  That’s not something that ever crossed my contemplation. That’s not a thought I had as recently as this morning when I rose from my bed to bathe in my customary flower-scented waters before donning my kimono for a hard day’s work of origami and bonsai.

Even as I consumed my sushi breakfast it didn’t occur to me that the Japanese rugby team might somehow defeat the South Africans, and that’s why I didn’t let the thought take over my entire day. As a matter of fact, I thought so little of it that I watched Ireland’s demolition of Canada with certain misgivings and then went home, planning only to follow the France – Italy match later on, but what happened instead?

Simple. A team of underdogs, a bunch of actually small men, put it up to giants of world rugby, both literally and figuratively, took them on as equals, outplayed them and finally defeated them, to the great delight of the entire rugby-watching world.

This was no fluke. The Japanese matched the South Africans score for score and play for play, shadowing them all the way to 32-29, a three-point game. The Japanese were just as good as the South Africans at every point of play, much to the horror of the Antipodean supermen, but then, to pile insult on anxiety, they worked the dying minutes of the game to nail the result at 34-32.

South Africa have never lost to a Tier 2 team while Japan have only ever won a single match in the Rugby World Cup.

Which of these things is more satisfying for Japan and more infuriating for South Africa?  You decide, but for the rest of the world, it seems that schadenfreude is the order of the day as rugby supporters everywhere cheer the unlikely victory.

I don’t know about you, but I found myself laughing like a madman as Japan ran over their winning try. And the more the camera dwelled on the disbelieving South African players sitting on the ground, the harder I chuckled.


Who knows?

The Japanese seem an unlikely crowd to be shouting for, given their famed attitude to us Gaijin, so maybe it comes down to the rest of the world simply not liking South Africans, for reasons we can only surmise.

Who wouldn’t love a South African, after all?   Their legendary friendliness, humility and modesty all make them prime candidates for Most Loved Nationality, and yet they never seem to win the trophy.

Hard to understand why, but that’s people for you.


7 thoughts on “Japan 34 – South Africa 32

  1. I think it was the Most Loved Nationality trophy that Bock was suggesting the South Africans have never won, rather than the Rugby World Cup trophy.

  2. It started with me laying back in the armchair, and ended up with me standing up and shouting
    for fuck sake take the three points for the draw.
    As I sat and watched at least four times after a South African score, I thought they will pull away now.
    Mostly with these matches the underdog is hanging on for dear life, not the other way around.
    The fact that the David in the struggle were so small,the battle so intense,the outcome unknown until the final whistle, it had everything.

  3. Scots beat them long time today.

    Ran in a load of tlies.

    I believe the SA coach apologised to the nation after their humiliation.

    Reminds me of when El Salvador and Honduras went to war after a match in 1969. Historians say it was because of economics and immigration and other such distractions, but we all know it was because of the only thing that matters – football.

    South Africa, El Salvador and Honduras are the only nations serious about sport.

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