Rugby: Japan have made a nation proud, says coach Jones

Japan's head coach Eddie Jones (left) with his players after Japan won their Pool B match against Samoa.
Japan's head coach Eddie Jones (left) with his players after Japan won their Pool B match against Samoa.AFP

MILTON KEYNES, England (REUTERS) - Japan have made their nation proud with their Rugby World Cup exploits even if they miss out on a place in the quarter-finals, coach Eddie Jones said.

The Brave Blossoms thumped Samoa 25-6 on Saturday for their second Pool B win but need results to go their way if they are to reach the last eight for the first time.

Japan sit third behind South Africa and Scotland and must beat the United States in their final match next Sunday while hoping Samoa can lift themselves to beat the Scots a day earlier.


"We don't control these things. Hopefully, if we win next week, we can make the quarter-finals. But if not, we will have achieved a lot for Japanese rugby," Australian Jones told reporters after a dominant performance against Samoa.

"We always said we came into this tournament with two targets: one, to be the team of the tournament, and secondly to make the quarter-finals. If we win three games we'll probably end up team of the tournament."

Japan's stunning win over South Africa on the opening weekend sent shockwaves around the game and, despite a defeat by Scotland four days later, an impressive win over ragged Samoa confirmed that the Brave Blossoms have become a force to be reckoned with.

"If you look at the history of Japanese rugby, they had won one World cup game in 24 years. We've just doubled that," Jones said.

"If we can win the third game against USA we will have changed the history of rugby in Japan."

That Japan have evolved into a team no longer to be taken lightly is a source of much pride for the coach, who will leave his post at the end of the tournament.

"I coached Japan for the first time in 1996. I came back in 2010 and was quite dismayed at the level of rugby in Japan and the national team.

"I watched them play against New Zealand in the 2011 World Cup and the All Blacks (who won 83-7) treated them like a training game.

"I've always thought the players were much better than that. So we've managed to create the right environment for the players and managed to show Japan can produce a serious rugby team."

Jones was not taking all the credit, praising the work of his coaching staff, including former England captain Steve Borthwick and Frenchman Marc dal Maso.

Joking that England may soon come calling for Borthwick's services, Jones said that the Englishman's "attention to detail is incredible".

"He's got guys to believe height is not major factor in the lineout. We're a very small team, we beat teams through speed and movement and being tactically smart, and Steve has been the driving force of that," Jones added.