Rugby World Cup 2019: Jamie Joseph proud of Japan success, despite quarter-final exit

Despite falling to South Africa in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, coach Jamie Joseph says his team can stand proud for what they've achieved during the tournament. 

Japan sent shockwaves around the sporting world, after they won all four pool games, to become the first Asian nation to qualify for the World Cup knockout stages. 

But their dream run ended with a 26-3 defeat against the Springboks, whom Japan beat at the previous World Cup. 

Joseph had only words of praise for his courageous players.

"I'm really proud of the team. Some didn't play in the game and that is what it takes to build a good team. 

"Everywhere we look and hear is support. 

"In the last five minutes of a test match, we were down - I don't know the score - but I was proud of their never-say-die attitude, their willingness never to lay down. That will help us go forward."

Due to his success with the Japanese team, Joseph's name has been mentioned as a potential successor to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

Joseph is off contract after the World Cup, but last month, he was believed to have agreed to a two-year extension with the 'Brave Blossoms'. 

He was reluctant to talk about his future after Japan's defeat. 

"I can't tell you. Japanese rugby is in a good place now. 

"I am going to really celebrate the achievements of this team. There's been a lot of work and it's been relentless."

"I am just the coach, and my job is to get the boys ready and get them playing rugby like they have been playing. If we can put the right system in place, then it can keep growing. 

"It is not one person who is responsible for developing this rugby team, but I would say the mentality has changed, and there is a whole new level of confidence and belief in what we are doing. 

"I believe, as a coach, the biggest thing you can give players is belief. Then they go out and play."

After the Wallabies' defeat to England, Japan climbed to sixth on world rankings - above Australia - but have dropped back down to eighth, after the loss to South Africa. 

"Japan is only going to get stronger," said captain Michael Leitch. "I'm extremely proud of what this team has done.

"[Coach] Jamie [Joseph] has done an excellent job with the team. The fans and the country, I think we've done them proud. 

"To represent Asia and the two-tier countries, I'm sure they will be proud of us as well."

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The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.

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