Rugby World Cup 2019: Japan begin preparation for massive encounter against Scotland

Japan coach Jamie Joseph knows his team is on the verge of something special, as they moved closer to their first World Cup quarter-final after beating Samoa 38-19 on Saturday. 

Kotaro Matsushima scored from the final play of the match to earn Japan a crucial bonus point, sending them three points clear of Ireland in Pool A. 

Even though they're unbeaten with three wins, Japan can still miss out on the quarter-finals, and will have to wait until their final pool match against Scotland to know their faith. 

Four years ago Japan fell to the Scots four days after beating South Africa in the greatest World Cup upset in history. The defeat was what ultimately decided the pool as Scotland - who also won three games - advanced with more bonus points. 

The Scots are currently third in Pool A, but still have two games to play, one against Russia on October 9, and then against Japan four days later. 

Joseph admits he was "relieved" that Japan managed to come away with a bonus-point win against Samoa, which could be the difference between them qualifying and missing out on the quarter-finals. 

"We've got an awesome opportunity to do something that's not been done before," said Joseph. "No one thought we could beat Ireland and now they believe we can win every game we play. That's how silly it is.

"Our players understand what's going on and we understand how difficult next week is going to be. But we can't play straight if we're thinking like this. 

"We're going out there now without the fear of losing and just play our game. Just keep trusting what we've been doing - which is preparing properly and trusting each other.

"We understand the detail in our game has got to be executed perfectly, otherwise at times, we can be really average.

"I think we all understand it, it's just about going in and doing that against a very good Scottish team next week. "

The runner up in Pool A will likely face the All Blacks in the quarter-finals. 

According to the Telegraph, these are the permutations in deciding who advances and who misses out in Pool A 

  • Japan will progress as Pool A winners if they beat Scotland next Sunday.
  • Ireland will qualify whatever happens if they can get a bonus-point win against Samoa next Saturday.
  • Assuming Scotland get a bonus-point win against Russia in midweek (to move to 10pts), they will go through at Japan's expense if they beat the hosts in Yokohama and deny them a losing bonus point (Scotland 14pts Japan 14pts, Scotland through on head-to-head)
  • If Japan get a losing bonus point against Scotland (to move to 15pts), Scotland would have to get a winning bonus point to go through (Scotland 15pts Japan 15pts, Scotland through on head-to-head).
  • If Japan get a losing bonus point AND a four-try bonus point (to move to 16pts) there is nothing Scotland can do even if they win both of their remaining matches with bonus points.
  • If Ireland beat Samoa without a bonus point next Saturday, there is a possibility that all three teams could end up on 15pts. The pool would then be decided by points difference.

Essential Guide to 2019 Rugby World Cup

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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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