Rugby World Cup: Japan refuse to draw inspiration from 'Brighton Miracle' for quarter-final against Springboks

Japan coach Jamie Joseph feels there is a real confidence and self-belief in his team as they prepare for their Rugby World Cup quarter-final against South Africa in Tokyo. 

After winning all four of their pool games, Japan reached the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time, and there is no doubt that Sunday's quarter-final is the biggest match in their history.

What adds to this already intense match is the history between the two nations. Japan beat the Springboks 34-32 at the 2015 World Cup in England, a result dubbed the 'Miracle of Brighton'. 

But Joseph said he would not be drawing upon this experience to prepare his players, admitting: "I've been trying to forget about it for the last four years since I've come here.

"That's generally what everyone sort of alludes to and talks about," he added. 

Micheal Leitch scores a try against South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Micheal Leitch scores a try against South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Photo credit: Photosport

"But we're a different team, different players. Yes, we've got some of the same players in here. But that was an amazing achievement for the last World Cup. And we're sort of working on our own things."  

Only eight players who started against South Africa four years ago are in the squad to play in the quarter-final, including captain Michael Leitch. 

Despite appearing at every edition since the tournament's founding in 1987, until four years ago Japan had just a single World Cup victory under their belts, a 52-8 win over Zimbabwe in 1991.

"Four years ago, Japan hadn't won a World Cup test match in 20 odd years," said Leitch. 

"It's a different mentality going into the [2019] World Cup. Now we go into test matches, you know, thinking we can win, believing we can win if we do our jobs properly.'

"Our first goal was to get out of our pool, and now we've got to shift the goalposts and try to win this quarter-final. 

"The country is behind us and excited. Every game for us now is a final. Every game we have to treat as our last."

Rugby World Cup: Japan refuse to draw inspiration from 'Brighton Miracle' for quarter-final against Springboks

South Africa have already got their revenge over Japan, as they slaughtered Joseph's side 41-7 before the World Cup. 

"Well, I have now renamed the September test match as a warm-up for South Africa and a rehearsal for us," said Joseph.  

"I think that's something that no other team in the World Cup, in the quarter-finals has had and that's gonna be a benefit for us."

Joseph added that the team have learnt lots since that "warm-up" match and now they know exactly what the Boks will throw at them. 

"What is clear is what South Africa are going to do. Opting for extra forwards on the bench shows they're going to approach the match using their forwards to be very direct and very physical. 

"Giving the opposition the ball and using their defence and big forwards to pressure us is a clear sign of their intent.

"That's what we've been preparing for all week. What's not so clear is what we're going to do - and that's what I'm looking forward to."

Essential Guide to 2019 Rugby World Cup

Everything you need to know about rugby and the World Cup...

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

Join us at 11:15pm Sunday for live updates of for the South Africa v Japan Rugby World Cup quarter-final. 

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