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Japan has been handed a tough draw at the 2023 Rugby World Cup after they were paired with England and Argentina in Pool D on Monday. The two other teams in the pool will be Oceania 1 — either Samoa or Tonga — and the second-ranked team from the Americas qualifying tournament.

Assuming both men stay where they are, Japan coach Jamie Joseph will find himself up against his predecessor, Eddie Jones, who masterminded the Brave Blossoms’ stunning upset of South Africa at the 2015 World Cup in England — a match now known as the “Brighton Miracle.” Jones now coaches England.

One of the stars of that era and that game, Ayumu Goromaru, announced last week that he will retire at the end of the upcoming Top League season. Goromaru’s distinctive goal-kicking stance became a media talking point at the time and was mimicked by young fans. “Goromaru-mania” even prompted fans to flock to see a Buddha statue said to be striking a similar pre-kick pose.

Goromaru's cool penalty kick for Japan (2015) | WORLD RUGBY
Goromaru’s cool penalty kick for Japan (2015) | WORLD RUGBY

Joseph, meanwhile, has been unable to work with his team since last year’s World Cup due to the pandemic. Japan’s home test matches against Wales and England in the summer were called off, but the Brave Blossoms are set to square off against the British and Irish Lions for the first time next June in Scotland. After that, they will head off to South Africa to face the team that knocked the Blossoms out of their own World Cup (and went on to win it).

Mere months later comes the Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, with Japan’s team having learned their potential pool phase opponents in November. Lesley McKenzie’s side still needs to qualify for the 12-team tournament, but if they take the Asian qualifying place in Pool B, they will find themselves alongside world No. 3-ranked Canada, sixth-ranked United States and a yet-to-be-determined European qualifier.

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