October 13, 2019 / 1:21 PM / a month ago

Rugby-Japan dedicate historic victory to typhoon victims

    By Nick Mulvenney
    YOKOHAMA, Japan, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Japan captain Michael
Leitch dedicated the team's 28-21 victory over Scotland at the
Rugby World Cup on Sunday to those affected by the super typhoon
which nearly forced the cancellation of the match.
    The victory for the Brave Blossoms sent them through to the
World Cup quarter-finals for the first time, the first Asian
country to achieve the feat and the first tier-two nation to
reach the knockout stage since 2007.     
    Remarkably, the match was played a matter of hours after
Typhoon Hagibis, one of the worst tropical cyclones to hit the
country in recent history, ripped through the Tokyo region
killing 23 people.             
   "I would like to thank everyone who came tonight," Leitch
said.
   "It is tough at the moment with typhoon so thanks to everyone
who made it happen. For those suffering from the typhoon this
was for you guys. 
    "Our heart goes out to all the people suffering from the
typhoon."
    Chants of "Nippon! Nippon! Nippon!" echoed around the arena
throughout the contest as the red-and-white clad majority of the
67,666 crowd got a chance to cheer their own nation at the
stadium that hosted the 2002 soccer World Cup final.
    A brace of tries from Man of the Match Kenki Fukuoka and one
each from his fellow winger Kotaro Matsushima - his fifth of the
tournament - and prop Keita Inagaki were enough to give Japan a
cushion to hold off a Scottish comeback.
    "Tonight we went another level," said coach Jamie Joseph.
    "They wanted it as much as the Scots and gave as much as
they could. This is what it takes to win big test matches. 
    "The Japanese haven't trusted themselves in big moments. Now
they know what it takes to get across the line."
    Japan's victory meant they topped Pool A and will now move
onto the last eight to face twice world champions South Africa,
the team they famously beat at the last World Cup in England in
2015.
     "I am incredibly proud," Leitch added. "We played with our
heart. It wasn't about skill today but was about emotion today.
    "We are representing Asia, Japan and tier two. We will give
everything in the next games."
    Scotland coach Gregor Townsend was gracious in defeat. 
    "Japan deserved it today," he said. "They played really well
in that first 50-60 and they are a very good team."

 (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Toby Davis)
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