Japan has made a thing of slaying giants at World Cups.
In 2015, the Brave Blossoms defied the odds — as long as 80-1 with some bookmakers — to beat South Africa 34-32 in what was dubbed the “Brighton Miracle.” Even the Japanese players were in disbelief at the final whistle, drenching the turf with tears of joy and clutching one another with all their might as if to withstand the gravity of their achievement.
Then, four years later, Japan bested Ireland, the world’s No. 2 team at the time, in a bubbling cauldron of emotion at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa. The 19-12 victory was a seismic moment in the sport’s history, kicking the competition into fifth gear and justifying the decision to hand Japan, then a Tier 2 nation, the task of hosting rugby's greatest showpiece.