Rugby

Tonga draws inspiration from Kumamoto's samurai heritage

AFP-JIJI

Tonga is taking inspiration from samurai swordsmen as it seeks to repeat its famous 2011 victory over France at the Rugby World Cup.

The Tongans will play France on Sunday in Kumamoto, a city famous for its samurai heritage, and they said Japan’s renowned warrior caste played a role in their build-up.

“The Kumamoto samurai had a fighting spirit we are looking to tap into. We’ve had that theme throughout our preparations this week,” said center Siale Piutau.

“We are coming off two losses, but I hope we can create something special.”

Tonga is desperate for a win after two straight defeats to England and Argentina left it fourth in Pool C with two games to go.

Although beating France is unlikely, it is only eight years since Tonga upset the Six Nations giant 19-14 at the pool stage of the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

“We know the old boys did it in 2011. Now it’s down to us to pull off another upset,” said winger Cooper Vuna.

Piutau said it was in Tonga’s favor that several of Tonga’s players are based in France, giving them the inside track on their opponents.

“I think it helps. They understand the mindset and psyche of French players,” he said.

“When we beat them in 2011, we had a lot of players who played alongside the French boys and it’s definitely a benefit for us.”

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