FUKUROI CITY, Japan, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Japan’s players vowed to continue making headlines after their stunning 19-12 win over Ireland at the Rugby World Cup on Saturday.
The Pool A victory, which put the host nation in pole position to qualify for the knockout stages and which will surely lead to an explosion of interest in Japan, was well deserved, the Brave Blossoms wrestling their way back from an early deficit to the delight of a partisan crowd at Shizuoka Stadium.
“Thank you for today!” Japan hooker Shota Horie said to the crowd after being named man of the match. “Thanks to your cheers, I was able to run to the last centimetre, the last millimetre.
“The tournament still continues, let’s fight calmly and let’s fight together. Thank you for today!”
Veteran forward Luke Thompson echoed those sentiments.
“I am so happy but it’s not finished yet,” he said. “We will concentrate for the Samoa game from tomorrow. We practised the breakdown a lot. Good team work today. I am happy.”
Coach Jamie Joseph said the stunning victory, which matched the upset of twice world champions South Africa at the last World Cup in 2015, had been long in the planning.
“We’re ecstatic about the result,” the New Zealander said.
“We’re really proud of the players, we had a plan, we’ve been training for a long time. We’ve been thinking about this game for quite a long time, obviously Ireland have been thinking about it for the last six or seven days.
“You’ve just got be careful before the game, you don’t want to come across arrogant or cocky but we had a lot of belief in our gameplan, we knew what we wanted to do. We also knew how strong Ireland were.
“We’ve got another couple of games to go but we’ll enjoy tonight I reckon.”
Japan next face Samoa on Oct.5. (Writing by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Tony Lawrence)