KUMAGAYA, Japan Sept 6 (Reuters) - South Africa have been constantly reminded of their famous loss to Japan at the 2015 World Cup since arriving in the Asian nation, and coach Rassie Erasmus was relieved his side went some way to avenge that defeat on Friday.
In Brighton four years ago, Japan, under coach Eddie Jones, secured a last-gasp 34-32 victory and cemented the result in World Cup history.
Karne Hesketh’s late try is played on repeat in promotional videos for the upcoming tournament, the result has been brought up by an eager Japanese media all week and there is even a movie about the match being released, entitled the ‘Brighton Miracle’.
The South Africans have smiled their way through all the questions in the build up to Friday’s clash with Japan but following their resounding 41-7 victory, Erasmus said a weight had been lifted.
“We were under pressure in this game from the beginning because we had that tag around our neck from when we lost to them way back in 2015,” said a smiling Erasmus.
However, the coach did understand the excitement of the World Cup hosts.
“When they ask us about the loss in 2015 I don’t get upset about that. They are proud about 2015 and they should be proud of 2015,” he added.
“We desperately wanted to turn that around today. That is why we picked our best team.
“We wanted to win this match and we did win it.”
The teams could meet again in the quarter-finals if they both qualify from their pools.
Japan are in Pool A alongside Russia, Samoa, Ireland and Scotland, whilst the Springboks must progress from a group containing reigning champions New Zealand, Namibia, Canada and Italy.
“We hope for them (Japan) that they progress from their pool,” said Erasmus, who was applauded by local media following his post-match news conference.
“Hopefully we see them again in the playoffs if we progress.” (Reporting by Jack Tarrant Editing by Christian Radnedge)