Rugby World Cup Preview – Japan v South Africa

Rugby World Cup 2019 tournament hosts Japan have been the headline act, making the quarter-finals for the first time in their history, with South Africa standing between the Cherry Blossoms and a place in the final four.

Japan’s success is a significant validation to World Rugby’s decision to award the 2019 edition of the tournament to Asia for the first time, with the appetite for the sport being enhanced immeasurably – now the host triumphant run serves as a morale boost to the country in the wake of Typhoon Hagibis.

While hard to believe, Jamie Joseph’s Japan enter the knockout stages with the form guide boasting an advantage in their favour, winning all four Pool A matches, including dismissing Ireland, with three bonus-points; while the Springboks have won three out of four, losing only to defending champions New Zealand.

Japan v South Africa
Venue: Tokyo Stadium
Watch live: ITV, Sunday 11:15am (UK Time)

Twice the sides have met, the first encounter being at the 2015 edition of the Rugby World Cup, with Japan stealing column inches yet again with a Pool stage win over South Africa, but the Springboks got their own back in September this year with a 41-7 win in a Rugby World Cup warm-up match.

South Africa fell short in their opening clash with the All Blacks, but have remained faultless since with big wins against Namibia, Italy and Canada, scoring 57, 49 and 66 respectively in impressive warning salvos Japan must observe.

Japan’s rise to the elite table of World Rugby has seen them overcome Home Nations Ireland and Scotland, as well Russia and Samoa, as they took charge of Pool A, falling just one point shy of a perfect 20 – a record matched only by Pool D winners Wales.

South Africa are a much stronger and reformed side from that which was beaten by Japan in 2015, with a change or culture and personnel, while Japan are riding the crest of the wave and have a nation cheering them on relentlessly.

While many neutral hearts will be with the Cherry Blossoms, the Springboks have a reputation to uphold and should be too strong for Japan, even with their free-flowing and expansive style of rugby the world has fallen in love with.

Ben’s Prediction: South Africa win by 15 points
Matches odds with Coral: Japan 5/1 Draw 33/1 South Africa 1/8

Coral verdict with Harry Aitkenhead: “Japan are 5/1 to continue the fairy-tale and make it past South Africa, and despite the wonderful performances in the pool stage if they were to win here it would be the biggest shock of the round according to our betting. South Africa are 1/8 to progress and the handicap line sits at 14.5 so the market definitely suggests that they are expected to run in at least three tries in this clash.

“Japan will need their greatest effort yet to cause the upset and punters backing the hosts are looking at 1-5 point win, at 10/1, or 1-12 at 6/1, for value beyond the 5/1 to win in normal time.”

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