Oh boy. Lets be realistic. The only way Japan has a chance to win here is if they were hired as the World Cup caterers and fed every team bad sushi. Even then, it would probably be 50/50.
They are the only team to concede over 1000 points in RWC history with an average of 48 points conceded per game.
They have only one win (v Zimbabwe in ‘91) and one draw (v Canada in ‘07).
But if there was a glimmer of hope, here are 3 reasons why Japan might do better than we think:
1. Eddie Jones
Eddie Jones was the coach of Australia and led them to their 2001 Tri-Nations victory.
Under him, the Brumbies also won their first Super Rugby title in 2001, making them the 1st team outside of New Zealand to win the competition.
Over his stint, he has lessened the amount of overseas players in his squad, encouraging Japan players to improve for a spot in the international side which is a step in the right direction.
2. Micheal Leitch
Japan’s captain is none other than the loose forward from the Chiefs.
Born and raised in New Zealand, Leitch moved to Japan for study at the age of 15.
He adds some real power to the Japan forward pack and is a great leader from the front. Will be Japans Player of the Tournament.
Japan has improved over the last 5 years under the tutelage of Eddie Jones. They know it and have a chance to possibly come 2nd in their Pool behind South Africa if they can topple fellow Tier 2 team USA and upset Scotland.
Don’t be surprised if their game against Samoa decides the number 2 spot in their Pool.
Odds are the lads with the most original flag (take note New Zealand) won’t make it past the group stages, and it’s hard to see them toppling the boys from ‘Murica. They’ll finish last in their pool, but with a much better points differential than previous campaigns.