Rugby Union 2011 World Cup: Japan pushes France all the way
Jay Doggett and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The 2011 Rugby Union World Cup started with New Zealand winning easily against Tongo. However, with Romania playing fantastically against Scotland before losing 34-24 then hopes were high that Japan would be inspired. Japan was more than inspired because they played lovely flowing rugby and the whole of Japan and supporters in the North Harbour Stadium were riveted.
After 65 minutes of the game the score was France 25 Japan 21 and James Arlidge was in supreme form. By this time Arlidge had scored two tries and with Takashi Kikutani, the captain, playing so strongly and with great passion, then the early period of the second half witnessed a powerful Japan between the renewal of the second half and up until 65 minutes.
During this period it even appeared that Japan would go on and push for a victory but the effort that Japan put in took its toll. France didn’t outplay Japan in the first 65 minutes and clearly Japan has shown every major rugby team that France is weak in many areas.
At half time Japan trailed France by 25 to 11 and clearly they kept their heads held high and the team talk by John Kirwan did the trick. Even when Japan fell behind 21 to 35 they kept on pushing and tried valiantly to score.
Japan clearly showed the world that they can play lovely flowing and attacking rugby in their opening game. Sadly, the final score is misleading because France defeated a tired Japan and a team which was trying to score.
France made Japan pay for some sloppy ball handling near the end but throughout the match it was Japan who played flowing rugby and not France.
The final scoreline of France 47 Japan 21 does not tell the truth because France defeated a jaded Japan. In the first 65 minutes you only had 4 points between both teams and it was the physical strength of France that won the day and made the score look easy. However, in truth, the game was far from easy because Japan played fantastic rugby until getting tired.