4 tries, some exhilarating attacking play and the sight of Matsushima scoring 3 times to cement his place in Japanese rugby historical past thrilled nearly all of the 50,000 followers packed inside Tokyo stadium.
This victory had been anticipated, such has been the advance in Japanese rugby, and the impression of the workforce’s efficiency on the 2015 World Cup.
Amid all of the hustle and bustle of a global match and the hyperbole that always surrounds the nation internet hosting it, maybe it is price remembering simply how far Japanese rugby has come.
Virtually 4 years in the past to this very day, Japan’s gamers arrived on the English south coast for a day that will rework the game’s picture throughout the nation.
That 34-32 victory not solely breathed new life into Japanese rugby, however introduced with it a brand new era of followers.
Earlier than the 2015 match, Japan had not managed to win a single sport for 24 years. Below then coach Eddie Jones, it turned the primary nation to not make the quarterfinal stage after profitable three group matches on the competitors.
A examine carried out by YouGov in 2013 discovered that 21% of the Japanese inhabitants appreciated rugby — a determine that has little question grown considerably with the workforce’s success and internet hosting of this match.
This consequence may even enhance a match that, like so many massive sporting occasions, typically depends on the success of its host nation. England can attest to this after it was pressured to observe the later phases of the 2015 version on tv after crashing out within the group stage.
For Japan’s gamers, the anticipate the match should have felt like an eternity. Talking forward of the sport, gamers confessed to nerves from the additional weight of expectation that been positioned upon them.
Maybe that explains the workforce’s opening to this contest towards Russia, a workforce it had overwhelmed in 5 of the six earlier conferences between the groups.
That might be proved true, someday. But when sleeping giants might dream, then certainly it could contain scoring the primary attempt of the World Cup towards the host nation.
Few had anticipated Russia to offer Japan too many issues, so when Kirill Golosnitskiy ran by way of to attain, simply transformed by Yury Kushnarev, there have been quite a lot of eyebrows raised.
Perversely, that setback appeared to ease Japan’s nerves. Steadily, these within the pink and white started to maneuver extra freely.
It took seven minutes for Japan to attain a attempt of their very own with Matsushima touching down after Timothy Lafaele had created house with a splendidly timed offload.
Although it missed the ensuing conversion, Japan, by now enjoying at a degree which Russia struggled to reside with, was in full management.
The place Russia had as soon as regarded sprightly and capable of break within the opening half hour, its gamers now stumbled across the area, throwing arms at shadows as Japan danced to the beat of the Taiko drum — robust, quick and unrelenting.
As halftime grew nearer, Russia lastly succumbed to the inevitable.
Having already seen a attempt dominated out for an infringement, Japan’s Matsushima took benefit of the additional house to run by way of for his second of the sport. Yu Tamara’s conversion added an additional two factors to offer Japan a 12-7 lead on the break.
Buoyed by that attempt, Japan started the second half in comparable vogue with Yu’s penalty extending his facet’s result in eight factors.
Two minutes later and Japan scored once more, this time flanker Pieter Labuschagne grabbing the ball away from the Russians and charging for the road.
Finally, daylight. Matsushima added his third attempt of the sport with 12 minutes remaining so as to add some additional gloss and lengthen Japan’s result in 20 factors.
That fourth attempt, which secured a bonus level, could but show essential given the extra strenuous exams that lie in anticipate the host nation.
Eire, the world’s No.1 ranked workforce, are subsequent up every week on Saturday, with Samoa and Scotland additionally seemingly show tough opposition.
However then once more, in addition they stated that about South Africa. Japan might be prepared.