Sky Sports News reporter James Cole reflects on Japan’s victory over Scotland that sealed their first Rugby World Cup quarter-final appearance as Typhoon Hagibis left a trail of destruction on the nation.
The emotion manifested itself at the end of the game, with scenes of fans leaving the stadium in tears after what had been a really, really horrible 24 hours for this country.
It felt like all that emotion came pouring out inside the Yokohama Stadium throughout the evening, a release of so much tension and emotion that had built up as Typhoon Hagibis approached.
The minute’s silence in memory of those who lost their lives in that typhoon was observed immaculately, you could hear a pin drop inside the stadium.
Then came the Japanese national anthem which was sung with gusto and emotion. It was spine-tingling as that anthem rang around the stadium, even as the number of missing and presumed dead from the typhoon was still rising.
And then from the kick-off, the wall of noise, the passion that the Japanese fans expressed supporting their team as they took on Scotland, and the level of intensity and pace that Japan played that game with. Every time Japan made a break, or a tackle, or a turnover, the noise just was incredible.
You just felt afterwards with some of the reaction from fans we saw outside the stadium, that what it offered was a little bit of joy. It was all an example of how sport for a grieving nation can offer some joy in very difficult times. The scenes outside the stadium spoke for themselves.
Afterwards, captain Michael Leach dedicated the win to the victims of Typhoon Hagibis. He spoke in his press conference saying that they have been inspired by the events and by what happened and they just wanted to give some joy back to Japan – who have embraced this World Cup, it’s fair to say.
You can see it also by the clean-up operation in and around the stadium ahead of the clash. Workers slept in the stadium overnight during the storm so they were ready to drain flood water from the dressing rooms and spray debris from the pitch.
When we arrived in Yokohama at 6pm you literally wouldn’t have known a typhoon had hit. I don’t think any other country in the world could stage an international sporting event 24 hours after its venue was hit by a super typhoon – the biggest in the country’s history for 60 years.
Meanwhile, the fans have got right behind not just the Japanese, but the whole tournament as a whole – and now they’ve made history, they’ve progressed to the quarter-finals.
You just get this feeling of that support behind them being like a 16th man if you like, and you do wonder if they can beat South Africa. Four years ago in Brighton at the last World Cup it was described as a miracle when they turned over the Springboks.
I don’t think it will be such a surprise this time – yes it will be a shock, yes they will be underdogs, but now there is belief both among the players and their supporters that they can do something very special.
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