Japan has been the feel-good story of the World Cup so far, with the tier two nation sitting atop Pool A after three wins from three matches, including a mammoth upset over Ireland.
However, in the wake of the victories, the growing list of unhappy opposition coaches is growing at what seems to be building speculation that a ‘helping hand’ is propelling home side Japan towards a first quarter-final appearance.
After the infamous 19-12 win over Ireland, head coach Joe Schmidt was critical of the referees’ rulings around the ruck and offside officiating. Upon review, World Rugby confirmed that three of the four calls that went against Ireland were incorrectly made.
Samoa head coach was left baffled by the treatment of his players after a case of double standards after one of their players was unable to return from an HIA after a high shot from the Japanese. Flanker TJ Ioane received a yellow card for an earlier tackling infringement while Japan’s player was only penalised.
“I’m probably just as bewildered as most people,” coach Steve Jackson said after the match.
“I agree TJ’s (tackle) was late. But it was shoulder to the chest, then it is a shoulder to the head (against Nanai-Williams) and we lose a player after the HIA.
“I don’t take away anything from the Japan side but our players deserve better than that.”
Scotland’s coach Gregor Townsend is the latest coach to publicly air his concerns over calls going Japan’s way ahead of their crucial final pool-match on Sunday.
He says the host nation benefited from ‘an incredible call’ which lead to their bonus point try over Samoa moments later in injury time.
“I’ve never seen a crooked feed penalised, certainly at the World Cup or in the Six Nations,” said Townsend.
“I think it’s an incredible call, to be honest. It’s something that has not been refereed and there’s been an agreement that there is more latitude for scrum-halves putting the ball in because you are the team that’s won the scrum.
“To see it in a World Cup really surprised me. To see it as we went into injury time for a game-changing decision was an even bigger surprise.”
The online reaction to call was equally suspicious of the decision.
Laughable free kick. Every scrum has been the same ref decided to chose that one to attempt to give Japan the best chance to stay in the RWC!
— Therthonsirdoug (@GraemeThirde) October 5, 2019
Great last try from Japan, but surprising decision from the ref. Scrum halves never put it in straight anymore #RWC2019
— Andrew Harrison (@andyhamamatsu) October 5, 2019
Ref doing everything to make sure Japan get that bonus point ? #JPNvSAM
— Matthew Blackman (@mjb_23) October 5, 2019
I smell an enormous rat. A South African ref giving an extraordinarily dodgy crooked feed decision that hands Japan the Bonus point. This decision all but ensures that Japan will top the group and meet South Africa. #JPNvSAM
— FlyB (@bp_flynn) October 5, 2019
Seriously Jaco Peyper, no ref blows the feed in the scrum anymore, but you decide to do that against Samoa in the last minute and give Japan the chance for 4 tries. Ridiculous… #SSRugby
— Nicus Bergh (@NicusBergh) October 5, 2019
Samoa, you useless cunts, kick the thing out ffs
Also the fact that the South African ref, handed Japan dodgy decisions that could lead them to topping the group is… interesting.#JPNvSAM
— Sp?kyBeak?? (@WrestleBeak) October 5, 2019
I’m sure it would be “great for the tournament” if Japan made the quarter-finals but I’m sure they dont need handy, bullshit calls to get there.
Hopefully the ref for #JPNvSCO has a strong personality.
— Three Red Kings (@threeredkings) October 7, 2019
Have you also noticed Japan's schedule? They have at least a week between every game. Add in that WR confirmed to Ireland that 3/4 offside penalties given against Ireland were wrong they are certainly getting some luck.
— Sean Patton (@SeanASPatton) October 7, 2019
Scotland must secure a bonus-point win over Russia tomorrow to close the gap on Japan to a manageable four points going into their meeting in Yokohama, but could still miss out on the quarter-finals if the hosts get a losing bonus point on Sunday.
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