Japan captain Michael Leitch insists the shocks are not over yet as he set his sights on Scotland.
The Brave Blossoms on Saturday pulled off the greatest upset in Rugby World Cup history when Karne Hesketh’s last-gasp try secured a remarkable 34-32 win over mighty South Africa in Brighton.
But New Zealand-born Leitch insists the win was no fluke as the build-up begins to their meeting with the Scots in Gloucester on Wednesday.
“We’ve been training to beat the Springboks for three years so we are pleased with that effort,” he said. “It’s our first World Cup win in 24 years and to beat the Springboks is pretty amazing, but now we have Scotland around the corner so we will focus on that.”
Japan’s stunning victory, set up by tries from Leitch and Ayumu Goromaru, whose nerveless penalties kept them in touch in the second half before Hesketh’s heroics, has left Pool B wide open. And their Australian coach Eddie Jones has also promised that the Asian champions are far from finished yet.
“We’re not done – we’re here to make the quarter-finals,” he said. “Then I’ll retire and go on television like Sir Clive Woodward.
“I’m too old for this, at 55, I should be in Barbados watching the cricket. But the history has now changed for Japanese rugby.”
South Africa managed four tries, through Francois Louw, Bismarck Du Plessis, Lood De Jager and Adriaan Strauss. But they are now licking their wounds ahead of what promises to be a bruising encounter with Samoa at Villa Park on Saturday.
“It was one of those performances where we can’t put our finger on why we lost, we were beaten by the better team” admitted captain Jean De Villiers.
Have to say 3 day turn around before Scotland game is unfair on Japan, will take a while to just get over emotion of that game! #unbalanced
— Austin Healey (@IamAustinHealey) September 19, 2015
“It was a fantastic day for Japan but we can’t make any excuses. It’s not going to get easier against Samoa and as players we need to take responsibility.”
Australia coach Michael Cheika paid tribute to Japan following their Springboks heroics. Speaking in Bath on Sunday, Cheika said: “I think it shows the great values people have to have.
“You’ve always got to have that readiness in rugby because it’s a contact sport. It’s a game where the humble usually succeed. In any contest, you might go good in one scrum and then get pushed off the next one. You’ve just got to be on all the time.
“I think that all the teams – from what I’ve seen over the progression of the tournament – are believing that they can win, as opposed to coming here just to participate.
“I was speaking to Eddie Jones at the coaches’ thing with the referees the other day. He did seem to have a lot of belief. He will be happy, but he will be thinking already about the next game, which is coming upon them quickly, and trying to navigate a course through to the quarter-finals.”
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New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen labelled his captain Richie McCaw “dumb” for the “brain explosion” which led to his sin-binning at Wembley.
The Pumas led 13-12 at half-time after McCaw and experienced centre Conrad Smith were shown yellow cards. But a final-quarter surge, with tries from Aaron Smith and Sam Cane, plus 16 points from the boot of Dan Carter earned the “rusty” 2011 world champions an opening Pool C win.
“The two yellow cards today were pretty dumb. Rich and Conrad know they were dumb ones and sometimes in the heat of the moment you have a wee brain explosion,” said Hansen, who described both sin-binnings as “warranted”.
McCaw saw yellow for tripping Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe as his opposite number took a quick tap penalty in front of referee Wayne Barnes’ nose.
Loudest cheer of tournament from Cardiff fan zone as Richie McCaw carded.He has asked for 5000 other offences to be taken into consideration
— Stephen Jones (@stephenjones9) September 20, 2015
The flanker said: “(It was) one of those things that as soon as that happens you wish you hadn’t. I knew straightaway.
“It was a reflex thing. It wasn’t the right thing to do. I suffered because of it and put the team under pressure which wasn’t the right thing to do.”
McCaw was booed in the sin-bin and at the end of the match. He added: “It’s happened before and if you get wound up about it, it’s not going to help you. You’ve got to block that kind of thing out. I was sitting in the sin-bin at the time, so I didn’t have a lot of comeback.”
Hansen believed the booing was a mark of respect for an All Black great. “You don’t get booed unless you’re any good. If you’re no good nobody cares,” Hansen said.
New Zealand trailed 16-12 early in the second half and seized control in the final quarter after Hansen turned to his replacements’ bench, with Sonny Bill Williams influential.
Wing Nehe Milner-Skudder somehow fumbled a Williams pass with the try-line in front of him before Aaron Smith darted over, enabling the All Blacks to seize control of the contest.
“The scoreboard would reflect it was very, very hard. It took a long time to get on top,” Hansen said. “There’s no doubt we were rusty, really rusty. Not only were we rusty, there’s a lot of apprehension in most of the teams.
“Everyone’s been half a second off the pace. That’s what comes with the World Cup, especially first round.” Argentina head coach
Daniel Hourcade admitted his side could not escape the All Blacks’ clutches in the second half after a first in which Guido Petti’s try was the difference.
“We were dominating and we had to stay that way, but it got to a point where they reacted, they took the ball and they never gave it up,” Hourcade said.
“When we were retrieving the ball we should’ve been able to have greater possession and been more effective. They were in constant attack and that made things difficult.”
France wing Yoann Huget is out of the rest of the World Cup after injuring his knee, his coach Philippe Saint-Andre said on Sunday.
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Huget was forced off during France's 32-10 victory over Italy in their opening World Cup match on Saturday and has injured the ligaments in his right knee, Saint-Andre told TF1.
The 28-year-old Toulouse star was pulled out of the France squad before the last World Cup in New Zealand in 2011 after missing three doping tests, for which he was handed a three-month suspension.
His Toulouse teammate Maxime Medard, who can play at wing or full-back, and Castres centre Remi Lamerat, who began his career at Toulouse, are the favourites to replace Huget for the rest of the tournament
Huget, who has played 41 times for France, made his debut for France in 2010 and has scored seven tries for his country.