Japan vs Samoa Live : One step at a time. Japan will be one closer to Rugby World Cup history if it beats Samoa on Saturday. Every rugby team tries to do it, but Japan appears to have taken care of the little things better than most.
In striving for such a monumental achievement of becoming the first Asian team to reach the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals, Japan has invested heavily in every tiny department of its on-field preparations at its home tournament. And they have been as exact as a Tokyo-Osaka bullet train timetable.
Sure, it helps hugely when the players also display a ferocious overall commitment to the cause, as the Japanese did on attack and defense in the shocking upset of Ireland in their last game in Shizuoka to leave them with two wins from two in Pool A.
But Japan’s growing success at the Rugby World Cup appears to be built on many small blocks.
How to watch:
The Herald will have live updates of the match from 11:15pm. Spark Sport coverage starts at 11:00pm. Kickoff is at 11:30pm.
Like coach Jamie Joseph identifying that Japan’s humidity this time of year and the resultant extra-slippery ball will make it tough for most other teams to pass and catch. So, Japan has thrown lots and lots of passes, trusting its familiarity with the conditions to give it the edge and never giving a bigger, stronger team like Ireland a moment’s peace.
There are other things: Defense coach Scott Hansen, like Joseph a New Zealander, drilling the team to get two men to make every tackle. That’ll give the smaller Japanese players a better chance of stopping the opposition but also help them swarm the breakdown. That led, Hansen said, to a 93% tackle efficiency against Ireland.
The team, brilliantly drilled, is also electrifying when it plays to the game-plan. The 19-12 victory over Ireland, after being 12-3 down against one of the world’s top teams, threw nearly 50,000 people at Shizuoka Stadium, and much of a country still getting to grips with rugby, into ecstasy.
The final piece of Japan’s preparation for that Ireland game was captain Labuschagne putting on a movie, “The Pursuit of Happyness” with Will Smith, for the players to watch the night before. Yes, Labuschagne planned it in advance. Labuschagne is South Africa-born but he’s been in Japan long enough to adjust.
And it’s important to note the word “Happyness” is intentionally misspelled in the movie title. It’s an integral part of an inspiring plot. The delight of the movie is in the detail, you see.