We may be down to the final eight teams, but there’s still plenty of debate concerning who will take out rugby’s top prize at the end of the 2019 World Cup.
What you won’t see debated, however, is how excellent hosts Japan have been for the tournament to date.
Yes, Typhoon Hagibis has caused a number of problems, but the Japanese people themselves have been exceptional. Whether it’s the players, the fans or the hard-working staff, everyone is in agreement that Japan has put on an outstanding show so far.
Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus has had nothing but good words to say of the treatment his side has received.
“It’s really tough not to like Japanese people,” Erasmus said on Monday. “The way they’ve accepted all the teams, not just South Africa, in terms of adopting you as a city.
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“Wherever we stayed, putting on South African jerseys and making you feel at home is something special and something I’ve never experienced in my life before.
Erasmus isn’t surprised that his side will come up against the hosts this weekend, despite the fact that Japan were placed in a pool with sudden death regulars Ireland and Scotland.
“After we played them in the warm-up game, we already thought if we are number one or two in our pool, we thought they would be number one or two in their pool. So, we thought that we might play them.”
Every neutral will be cheering for the host nation for as long as they last in the knockout stages of the tournament. Their high tempo play has earned them plaudits around the world and their position as underdogs makes them easy to support.
Erasmus, despite himself being a big fan of the Brave Blossoms, won’t have any qualms with cutting short Japan’s tournament on Saturday, however.
“We love the country and the people, but we have to try and beat them. And we have to play really well to beat them, because they are ranked sixth or seventh in the world, and they deserve it,” said Erasmus.
“We are playing for our country and we want to try and win the World Cup. For the next week, unfortunately, Japan is the enemy.”
Want to get an idea of what fans were thinking after Japan’s breathless display against Scotland over the weekend? RugbyPass were on the ground:
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