TOWNSVILLE, Australia — The New Zealand and Australian influence on the Japan rugby team seems to have had an added influence off the field as well as on.

There’s a poster in town promoting the World Cup that proclaims “Be rough, be tough, be rugby,” and the Japanese players seemed not only to have read it but also carried the message on board as the Cherry Blossoms kicked off their 2003 Rugby World Cup campaign with arguably the best performance the national team has ever put together.

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