Rugby

Springboks coach keeping eye on Japan with 'scary' quarterfinal clash possible

AP

Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus arrived later than he normally does for his team’s pregame warmup in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture. Turns out he couldn’t take his eyes off another Rugby World Cup game.

Somewhere in the backrooms at the City of Toyota Stadium, Erasmus was instead glued to the TV for the Japan-Ireland epic in Shizuoka, which ended less than an hour before his team’s game against Namibia.

“I watched that game right to the end,” Erasmus said.

Apart from the great drama of Japan’s 19-12 upset victory over Ireland, which shook up the World Cup, it might also have been time well invested.

Should Japan keep its stunning run going in Pool A, and South Africa clinches second in Pool B, it’ll be the Brave Blossoms vs. the Springboks in the quarterfinals.

That will put South Africa in Japan’s sights once again. The Springboks have been there before, falling 34-32 in the final seconds against Japan at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the biggest shock in the tournament’s history before Saturday in Shizuoka.

Erasmus said a quarterfinal against the host nation is now “a realistic option” if South Africa can get past Italy, the biggest challenge it has left in the pool stage.

“It’s also a bit of a scary option,” Erasmus said.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5