rugby world cup 2019

Japan fans explode with joy after Ireland upset

24 Comments
By Behrouz Mehri

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© 2019 AFP

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24 Comments
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Great for Japan! Congrats

1 ( +5 / -4 )

The question is, was rugby even popular in Japan before this whole jamboree? Or could they just as well be having the Tiddlywinks World Cup and everyone would be all gassed up like this because Japan is winning something on the world stage?

0 ( +13 / -13 )

The question is, was rugby even popular in Japan before this whole jamboree? 

Save your questions for another day and enjoy three moment.

Well done Japan!

5 ( +11 / -6 )

It truly was the Miracle in Shizuoka!

The question is, was rugby even popular in Japan before this whole jamboree? 

Rugby is extremely popular in Japan, especially at high school and University level. Also the professional Top League is popular. But if Brave Blossoms now make the Semi Final (or higher), watch it boom even more. Go Brave Blossoms! Dream of World Cup glory!!

0 ( +10 / -10 )

Rugby is extremely popular in Japan, especially at high school and University level

No it isn’t, cobber. I’ve never met a single Japanese person who said rugby was ‘extremely popular’ even at university and high school level. I work with people who graduated from universities known for rugby ( Waseda and Keio ) and they said it wasn’t that popular even there when we were talking about the World Cup. You’re not right here, old man.

Anyway, good to see the fans enjoying themselves.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

I was cheering the Japanese team with my Japanese family and nearly shouted the house down on the interception at the end when Japan looked like running in a breakaway try. But my delight at Japan's victory does not mean I have to suspend my observations of reality.

Ganbare Japan writes "Rugby is extremely popular in Japan, especially at high school and University level', responding to a poster questioning the sport's popularity here.

This reply shows a lack of perspective. Yes, it is true that, within Japan, high school and university rugby make up a large proportion of the rugby played. But the overall pie is small and, from another perspective, the relative popularity of high school and university rugby is simply an indication of a failure to develop widespread adult popularity. The number of amateur rugby clubs (especially away from Tokyo) is absolutely tiny. As far as I know, there are exactly zero amateur rugby clubs for adults anywhere within around 50 or 60 miles of my town. This situation is replicated across the country. So to claim "rugby is extremely popular in Japan" is not actually true. Top league attendance figures are also way way below soccer and baseball.

In fact, in complete opposition to what Ganbare Japan writes, the Japan rugby authorities have been reflecting on their failure to galvanize support for the sport following the prior win over the Springboks four years ago. That is not my opinion, that is simply what the rugby association themselves are saying; they did not harness the momentum from that win to generate grassroots interest.

We can be delighted that Japan won without making up facts, surely?

It is also true that, before the tournament started and no-one knew how Japan would get on, the coverage in the media was nothing like what you would expect for an international event of this magnitude. Japanese TV shows, particularly the daytime magazine shows, are famous for given blanket, minutely detailed coverage to certain selected issues. The rugby world cup was not ignored, of course, but it did not, in advance, get this blanket media treatment at all. In fact, this was something else that the rugby authorities themselves were complaining about. In fact, in the run up to the opening ceremony, news of the event was scant, with one leading news item instead reporting on the keying of two dozen parked cars in a car park!

So it is not poor taste, I would say, to note that there is a significant component of "bandwagon jumping" going on here, as observed by one of the above posters. Of course it is natural that everyone gets excited at a surprise win, so it is not really a criticism to say that people are bandwagonning, simply an observation that before Japan won, lots of people were not paying attention to this event at all.

Would you not say that we can a better understanding of news and events when we do not simply cheerlead relentlessly irrespective of the facts? One of the problems with a mindset like that is that you can never look at anything objectively and think about possible solutions if you are, for whatever reason, ignoring reality in the first place.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Great news for the fans. It was heartwarming to see their excitement and surprise.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Well, that certainly deviated from the script. Well done, Japan. Although, I'm still in shock...

Rugby is extremely popular in Japan,

Unfortunately not. But last night's epic win will certainly help towards popularising the greatest game in the world.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Great for Japan!

All my Japanese women friends watching didn't understand or know the rules of the game.

Or any sport. lol

3 ( +6 / -3 )

All my Japanese women friends watching didn't understand or know the rules of the game.

To be fair, most players don’t fully understand the rules. Rugby referees undergo a very stringent selection and training process.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Great game by Japan, outplayed the Irish across the park and fully deserving the win! They will be confident if indeed they meet South Africa again, in the Quarter Final.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Japanese and Irish fans are the best in the world.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Rugby is popular in Japan? If Japan were real fans of the sport, they would be watching Russia vs Samoa in big numbers. Fiji vs Georgia will be sold out. Bars will fill up for these matches. Millions of real rugby fans in South Africa, New Zealand, France and England will be watching these matches. Will the media in Japan be broadcasting the Fiji match on network television – not some obscure cable channel? When you look over the shoulders of people in front of you on the train and see they’re all watching Fiji versus Georgia on their phone, then you can say that rugby is popular in Japan.

Of course, nations cheer for the home team. But sophisticated nations love the sport. Where rugby is truly popular fans will know the names of the players on the other teams. Ask yourself, if Japan was playing Ireland on a Tuesday night, would the same number of fans fill the streets are huddle around televisions? Think scheduling a Saturday night match up was not by design? I see they’re playing their next match on a Saturday, too. How about team Russia? Their matches are on Wednesday, Thursday, Tuesday nights.

As upset as you are at CaptDingleheimer about “tiddlywinks”, he’s right. I’ve lived in Japan long enough to experience this many times in Olympics, soccer and rugby. Good for team Japan, they’re doing well, but Japan has to just admit they only get excited when their team is playing, regardless of the sport.

Come from a real baseball, rugby, soccer, or basketball nation and you love the sport, itself. Millions of people watch even when the home team is not playing. That’s sophisticated. When Hayashi and Tanaka are at the water cooler discussing the brilliant Italian defence against Wales last night, then you’ve got a country where rugby is popular.

Likely this will receive many "thumbs down", but I had to say it. There, I feel better. Thanks for reading.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

But sophisticated nations love the sport.

I've neither upvoted or downvoted your post but I disagree with your reasoning that Japan is somehow not sophisticated in its support for the game.

It's still relatively new to Japan and given time and more exposure (like last night) it will take off.

The bonhomie and atmosphere from both Irish and Japanese fans last night was electric.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Toasted Heretic, fair enough.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan has a reasonably long history with the sport, but it has never really taken off in a huge way. Of course there are some die hard fans. That's the same as with everything... but I have to agree... it does not have the popularity of sports such as baseball or soccer. It's probably closer to the level of popularity that is found for rugby in America.

Still... the RWC in Japan has had an effect on some people who I have been speaking to... people who never previously paid any attention to the sport have now been telling me they have been enjoying watching the games and hope it will endure long after the tournament.

Some people I know are doing everything they can to get their hands on the tickets. One person bought I know has bought a new TV, entertainment unit, and is going to at least 5 of the games. Last minute he told me he was going to the game between Japan and Ireland, so that included travel costs to get to the game. One of the reasons I think the games have not all been sold out is the cost. Even the games between the lesser ranked teams have some very high prices.

But it is as zenzen said. Places where rugby is a truly popular sport will have many fans who follow their teams to the ends of the Earth to watch them play. This isn't happening in Japan... yet. I hope the RWC being held here will change that.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I think if you watched that match with the world rankings reversed and expecting Japan to win, it would have felt like a fairly controlled win, not the edge of the seat thing it was. Did Ireland score any points after about 20 minutes in?

Most things are going up in price on Tuesday, so it's good to have something to cheer about. It may just be men kicking and throwing a ball about, but the delight on peoples' faces is genuine.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Awesome win, well done Japan!

Although I still think that the 2015 win vs boks was a greater achievement/upset (boks cred, away from home, j team were so called minnows back then etc) yesterday's game probably cements Japan's place as a tier one nation.

Wouldn't call Japan a rugby-mad country but it's pretty much the same elsewhere tbh. NZ, SA and perhaps Wales (?) the only countries where rugby's n1 and a vast majority of men/women know the rules, players etc. You get the same questions/comments all around the world i.e 'what's a scrum, how many players in a team, what's a forward pass, wow the n4/5 are very tall and the 9's shortish why's that? ...'

Ppl tend to like/watch the rwc, not so much club footy let's be honest (10-15k is a decent crowd in all domestic leagues including NZ, SA, eng, fr, oz, Ireland).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I had someone tell me they loved rugby a few days ago. When she asked me and I said I wasn't really interested she was shocked. I told her that like most "fans" she was probably only intersted in it because the World Cup was being played here. She did not disagree. World Cup finishes, the team goes back to being garbage and the "fans" disappear.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Ganbare Japan! wrote Today 08:30 am JST

It truly was the Miracle in Shizuoka!

Rugby is extremely popular in Japan, especially at high school and University level. Also the professional Top League is popular. But if Brave Blossoms now make the Semi Final (or higher), watch it boom even more. Go Brave Blossoms! Dream of World Cup glory!!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it's not really a professional league. It's actually an amateur league, much like football ("soccer") in Japan some decades ago, where teams are owned by companies, with players being their employees.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

No it isn’t, cobber. I’ve never met a single Japanese person who said rugby was ‘extremely popular’ even at university and high school level. I work with people who graduated from universities known for rugby ( Waseda and Keio ) and they said it wasn’t that popular even there when we were talking about the World Cup. You’re not right here, old man.

LOL. You couldn't be more wrong if you tried!

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

LOL. You couldn't be more wrong if you tried!

Please explain to us how rugby is ‘extremely popular’ in Japan.

I for one, and every Japanese person I’ve spoken to about rugby, seems to think otherwise.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I for one, and every Japanese person I’ve spoken to about rugby, seems to think otherwise.

Exactly. I know some Japanese who are crazy about rugby, but they would accept that it is a minority sport. Not sure where Belrick is coming from, other than making unevidenced statements.

Belrick - what's your evidence - number of rugby clubs, fan attendance etc? Given that New Zealand has more registered rugby players than Japan, despite having a population that is only about 2% of Japan, suggests that your definition of "extremely popular" is about 50 times different to the NZ definition.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

As everyone living in Japan and who likes rugby and the team should! Japan did a great job against a much better team, and they deserve all the fanfare and congratulations. And it is wonderful if it forwards rugby in Japan.

That said, I have already, since the game, had old men and women I know literally BRAGGING, as though THEY had been on the team, playing, and deserved a pat on the back themselves, kind of like when they say "Thank you" if you say Mt. Fuji is beautiful. One guy was being so arrogant about it I asked him what position he had played on the field when they won. He obviously didn't catch the sarcasm, and just said, "What do you mean? I didn't play," to which I said, "Exactly! So why are you congratulating yourself as though you did. Be happy for the team. Be happy for Japan and the team's supporters. But don't act like you had anything to do with the win."

Seriously... I'm proud of Japan, but I'm not at all proud of myself for the win, nor do I feel any sense of superiority for it, either.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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