Rugby

Backstreet Boys light Japan's fire at Rugby World Cup

AFP-JIJI

Japan’s rugby team is looking to an unusual source for inspiration as the World Cup host chases a historic quarterfinal spot — the Backstreet Boys.

Asked if there was a go-to song the players were using to fire themselves up before matches, fullback Ryohei Yamanaka said: “Yes, Backstreet Boys — ‘I Want It That Way.’ ”

The Brave Blossoms, until recently tournament whipping boys, have become potential giant-killers since toppling two-time champion South Africa in their opening game four years ago in the first of three World Cup victories under coach Eddie Jones.

Japan, which as become an almost permanent fixture in the world’s top 10 since that 2015 tournament, beat Russia 30-10 in its Pool A opener last Friday.

As Jamie Joseph’s troops prepare to take on Ireland in their second game in Shizuoka Prefecture on Saturday, the Japanese players will once again be warming up to Backstreet Boys lyrics such as “Am I your fire? Your one desire” before going into battle.

Japan will likely need to beat Scotland in its final Pool A fixture to achieve Joseph’s target of reaching the knockout stage for the first time.

The Scots got off to a shocking start with a 27-3 loss against the Irish last weekend.