The game at Brighton has been erased, says Erasmus
South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus insists his side are no longer haunted by the “Miracle of Brighton” ahead of their quarterfinal clash against Japan.
The Springboks lost 34-32 to Japan in the pool stages of the last World Cup. Since then South Africa have beaten Jamie Joseph’s side 41-7 in Kumagaya in a World Cup warm-up match.
“The reason for that Japanese warm-up was to erase the Brighton game so if we played them in the play-offs that match would hopefully not get mentioned again,” Erasmus said. “It is 1-1 now and we have a quarter-final against a really tough team. That game [Brighton] is in the past now.”
Yet Erasmus says the warm-up match will have no bearing on the game in the Tokyo Stadium on Sunday. Japan are riding the crest of a wave after qualifying for the quarter-finals for the first time by winning all their group games.
“In that warm-up game, there was no pressure,” Erasmus said. “We definitely won’t be able to go with the same plan that we went into the warm-up game with.”
Erasmus also confirmed that winger Cheslin Kolbe would be fit to play on Sunday in a game which should be a fascinating clash of styles. Erasmus has nothing but admiration for the way that the Brave Blossoms have played in this tournament or for how Japan have hosted the event, particularly in the wake of Typhoon Hagibis. Yet that respect will not get in the way of the Springboks’ attempt to reach the semi-finals.
“It is really tough not to like Japanese people,” Erasmus said. “The way they have accepted all teams, not just South Africa, in terms of adopting you as a city wherever we have stayed, putting on South African jerseys and making you feel at home. It is something special which I have never experienced in my life before.
“The way they have handled the typhoon, and I know there are a lot of losses both in lives and different ways, in many forms, and our condolences as the Springboks are with those people. It shows the strength of Japanese people to still host the game and then beat a team like Scotland.
“Saying that, we are playing for our country and we want to win the World Cup. Unfortunately, for the next week Japan is the enemy. We love the country and the people but we have to try and beat them. We will have to play really well because they are ranked seventh in the world and they deserve it.”