Japan vs Springboks Reddit : The breathtaking match between the hosts Japan and Gregor Townsend’s Scotland was effectively a knockout game with a little bit more bite. Held in the wake of a devastating typhoon, it brought a brief respite as Japan’s fans cheered and cried and coerced their beloved Brave Blossoms to a victory borne on raw emotion and bottled-up energy.
The speed of ball and movement generated in attack by Jamie Joseph’s side was a joy to behold. It negated any need to throw bodies at breakdowns and kept players on their feet and in the game.
With speed sometimes comes a lack in accuracy. Not with this Japan team. Their play was as precise as it was pacy. Passes went to hand, the players ran into space, the point of attack was changed to slow any momentum Scotland’s defensive line speed could generate. The fundamentals were sturdy and were respected.
Rugby World Cup power rankings: breaking down all 20 teams in Japan
There has been a lot of talk about high tackles this tournament. I’ve also talked incessantly over the past few years about the abhorrence the breakdown has become. Scotland lost one of their own, Hamish Watson, as a result of one of those careless and illegal clear‑outs in the pool matches and he was missed last weekend.
In Yokohama there were hardly any high shots and very few horizontal Japanese players off their feet at rucks. Why? Because of their alignment in their structures and their application to working hard at their basics. If you are collectively quick of thought, and clearly know your roles, you can react quicker, better and more skilfully. Watch the Japanese first phase – they were so good that they didn’t need to use blunt force to clear a defender because they got to the ruck so quickly and the ball was gone so rapidly.
This Japan team show us the blueprint of what is possible and that the laws do not need to be ignored to play the modern game. Alain Rolland and World Rugby take note. Stop allowing sloppy technique. You’ve clamped down on the high tackle; now, after this World Cup, do the same for the breakdown. It will lead to smarter training across the game as technique and speed is honed, not heavy weights harnessed and hits heightened.
The question now is can the first Asian side to make the knockout stage go any further when they face the very good South Africans, who beat them in Tokyo 41-7 in their last warm-up game, and are a team many class as one of the favourites to win the whole thing.