JAPAN’S RUGBY WORLD – BACK TO THE FUTURE


The match that nearly wasn’t, prompting a social media and legal protest almost unrivalled in rugby, the backdrop of a deadly storm and finally a national sporting drama which played on all the emotions in front of a 60m audience.
Tamura and Nagare, names to conjure with – if there are two more electrifying half backs in World Rugby I have not seen them. I have said that no 9 was a key position for the World Cup and Yutaka Nagare has cemented his position as a new Faf du Klerk – their contest this weekend will be fascinating and could decide the match.
What a throwback to see pacey running into space away from contact, quick fire passing and pin point accuracy, disbelief by watchers that this dream rugby can actually be a reality and all under intense pressure and emotional turmoil. I swear that I could imagine the likes of Jeremy Guscott, David Campese, Serge Blanco or Christian Cullen smiling broadly as they would have been at home in this running festival. The Japanese performance was not really from another planet but from another era. Package it up and send it to every school in the world.
The Japanese exploitation of the blind side was notably ruthless where Laidlaw and Graham were mercilessly exposed time and again. It was world class and relentless.
Ironically the risk for this match was to kick or to run into contact. Scotland found their feet eventually and played a full part but were already leaking way too many points. On this occasion it was hard to think that any team in the world could have withstood the onslaught.
Lastly, Nakajima has become my favourite passing and running prop in World Rugby with his unstoppable cameo and that takes some saying!
South Africa is my tip to win the Rugby World Cup ( if not England ) and they gave Brighton world sporting prominence in 2015 by losing there against Japan in the last play of the match.  I suspect that a Bokker blend of power and pace will be enough, just, though perhaps we can dare to dream of some more romance.
Not much else to say other than the Wales effort is being forged in the white hot pressure of their pool group, Australia and Fiji (HOW did they lose to Uruguay!) have been two of the best games in the tournament  so far. That resilience under pressure will be priceless for the Welsh.
Meantime England have stayed away, ice cold and disturbingly unchallenged. The press cannot write any more previews can they? Who plays 10, that’s all that matters?
Elsewhere, the men in Black lurk menacingly  and will face their relative nemesis Ireland for whom Conor Murray was exceptional and he has sparked a revival of Irish hopes.
It’s all about the nines…