Japan’s Rugby World Cup players expressed mixed feelings as their incredible campaign came to an end with a quarterfinal defeat to South Africa on Sunday, with pride in their achievements largely crowding out the disappointment.

“It was really emotional when the final whistle went,” said flanker Pieter Labuschagne, after Japan had exited the tournament with a 26-3 loss to the Springboks at Tokyo Stadium. “So much time and effort went into this campaign, and it all came to an end. But I was also feeling really proud of the way that we played throughout the World Cup. The way that we represented ourselves and executed our plan from the first game right up until now.

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