There has been an action packed start to the Rugby World Cup filled with many exciting matches and a couple of unexpected upsets!
The Rugby World Cup has been absolutely amazing with an electric atmosphere at matches across venues throughout Japan. The Japanese have totally embraced the rugby community with open arms and there has been a special energy in the country.
Opening Weekend in Rugby World Cup
The highlights of the opening weekend included the opening match between hosts Japan and Russia and the All Blacks against Springboks at Yokohama International Stadium.
After hosting the opening ceremony, Japan started their campaign in their opening match with a rocky start and struggled to achieve any momentum. In the second half, things changed and the hosts started to get into the match resulting in a comfortable bonus point victory.
The Springboks then faced the All Blacks in a scintillating class that could have gone either way. In the end the All Blacks took all their chances and the Springboks didn’t, resulting in the All Blacks winning the match 23 – 13.
Early upsets in Rugby World Cup
The biggest upset of Rugby World Cup so far is the host nation putting in a monumental battle against Ireland, coming out tops in the end. The Brave Blossoms went into the match as the underdogs and from the outset conceded two early tries. It was looking as if Ireland were going to run away with the match, however after a few penalty kicks, Japan were able to get back into the match. Having defeated the Springboks at the last Rugby World Cup in England, Japan has achieved their second tier one team scalp. This bodes well for the future of the game in the nation of the rising sun.
Another one of the major upsets at the beginning of this Rugby World Cup was when minnows Uruguay beat the strong and quick footed Fijians who are sevens specialists. The Uruguayans tackled their hearts out the entire match.
After the early defeat to the All Blacks in their first fixture, the Springboks started gaining momentum winning their remaining pool matches convincingly. They proceeded to beat Namibia 57 – 3, Italy 49 – 3 and blew Canada away winning 66 – 7.
The public in Japan have embraced this Rugby World Cup including all the fans and teams. There have been wonderful moments such as 15 000 locals turning up for a Wales training session as well as full stadiums and fan zones across the country.
When the hosts beat Ireland securing their second successive win, local enthusiasm for the tournament went soaring and for the first time Japan are in with a chance of playing in the Quarter Finals.
Fans on the streets are not the only ones who are taking notice and celebrating their national team and the tournament. World Rugby has mentioned that the interest from the Ireland match showed that TV viewership will have exceeded expectations setting a new record in Japan. The match also occupied the top 5 trends on Twitter in Japan. There was also the highest attendance of fans at fan parks from across the country reaching numbers of over 120 000 fans in total.
Japan has exceeded expectations and have put together a well supported Rugby World Cup. The Japanese have been great hosts to all the matches including big wins, upsets and tight encounters. Hopefully Japan can build on from this Rugby World Cup spreading the reach of the game and hopefully become a dominant force in rugby.0