They dared to dream, and when it all came to an end, the faces of the Brave Blossoms said it all.
Japan was unbeaten in the tournament before Sunday night's historic quarter-final, beyond what the host country could ever have believed possible.
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- Jamie Joseph proud of Japan success, despite quarter-final exit
Down by two points at half time, in their own unique way, Japan was in control.
But it wasn’t enough for Kiwi Jamie Joseph’s team to go one step further.
"I’m just so proud of my team; the courage, tenacity, and determination," Joseph said.
And that’s how the underdogs captured the attention of the world, and possibly more importantly, their own country.
It’s hard to believe that world cup rugby lagged in popularity to tennis, football and even golf, because on Sunday night, about 60 million people; half the japanese population, tuned in to watch the Brave Blossoms play their first ever quarter final.
Japan’s four-week fairytale is over, and the tournament will be poorer for it.
The start of something special?
SANZAAR needs to get moving if it wants Japan to be part of an expanded Rugby Championship.
Newshub has learned the key could lie with a shock return to Super Rugby for The Sunwolves. The team was dropped from the competition earlier this year, with Japanese Rugby’s refusal to underwrite the team’s participation beyond 2020.
But it’s understood the board that made that decision has changed, and with it, attitudes within the union towards Japan’s participation in Super Rugby.
A 15 team round-robin competition is expected to be discussed at a SANZAAR meeting this Friday, along with how to get Japan into the Rugby Championship.
Japan’s exciting brand of Rugby displayed on the biggest stage now means the game has a captive audience in a vital market, making Japan one of the most valuable properties in World Rugby.
"The players and the brand of rugby we've been playing all year is inspiring," Joseph said.
SANZAAR’s time to strike, is now.
Join us for live updates of this weekend's Rugby World Cup semi-finals.