Ja­pan’s he­roes can in­spire gen­er­a­tion of young­sters into game, says Jones

The Daily Telegraph - Rugby World Cup - - Front Page - By Mick Cleary at the Brighton Com­mu­nity Sta­dium

Ja­pan’s head coach, Ed­die Jones, hailed his side’s 34-32 win over South Africa as ‘one of the great­est days’ in his ca­reer af­ter what was one of the most ex­tra­or­di­nary games in World Cup history. Jones be­lieves the vic­tory will send shock waves through Ja­panese sport af­ter the Brave Blos­soms top­pled the two-time world cham­pi­ons to register their first World Cup win since 1991.

“We have made a splash to­day but we want to make a real dent and I hope that this will in­spire Ja­panese kids to turn their back on be­com­ing a base­ball star or a foot­baller in Europe and take up rugby in­stead,” said Jones, who stressed his team now need to back up this seis­mic achieve­ment with a re­peat per­for­mance against Scot­land at King­sholm on Wed­nes­day.

Jones had no com­plaint about the four-day turn­around. “We are at the bot­tom of the food chain, the lit­tle fish at the bot­tom of the ocean and we just have to eat what comes our way. Our play­ers are used to back­ing up in games. This re­sult has thrown the pool wide open.” Jones, 55, has al­ready in­di­cated he will step down at the end of the tour­na­ment to take up a post with the Storm­ers in South Africa.

“We’re not done yet and the goal has al­ways been to reach the quar­ter-fi­nals,” said Jones, who used to en­joy ver­bal joust­ing with Clive Wood­ward dur­ing his time with the Wal­la­bies. “If we do that, then I can re­tire happy with my dream to be like Sir Clive on TV as a critic. That’s my dream. Look, I’m too old for this. At my age I should be in Bar­ba­dos watch­ing cricket.” There is no doubt that Jones’s energy and rugby in­tel­lect has wrought an enor­mous change in Ja­panese rugby. He be­lieved, so they be­lieved, even if Jones was still pinch­ing him­self.

“I had to go back out and check the score­board again,” said Jones, a man whose quips are as sharp as his coach­ing drills. “It got to 60 min­utes, and we were right in it but I thought it was go­ing to be like the woman go­ing into the shower in a hor­ror film, you just knew what was go­ing to hap­pen next.

“The Boks would come back, score and score, and it would fin­ish 50-20 and ev­ery­one would say how well we had done, plucky Ja­pan. We were more than brave out there. For the boys to turn down the chance of a draw with that last penalty to go for the win, and get it, told you ev­ery­thing about them. It is all pretty spe­cial, pretty hum­bling. I have been in coach­ing for 20 years and I have never worked so hard.”

South Africa were shell-shocked. “We have let down the coun­try, for which I apol­o­gise,” said head coach, Heneke Meyer, whose side face Samoa next week­end at Villa Park as they look to sal­vage their cam­paign. “It is un­ac­cept­able. We can’t keep do­ing this. This is by far the most dif­fi­cult day. We have to be 100 times bet­ter if we are to go through to the next round. I think there will be more shock re­sults in this tour­na­ment.”

Great­est day: Ed­die Jones has set his sights on the quar­ter­fi­nals af­ter his Ja­pan team shocked twotime world cham­pi­ons South Africa

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