Japan took great strides at the last World Cup in England, securing their first ever win over South Africa, 34-32, while winning three of their four matches, but narrowly missing out on progress to the knockout stages. Now Japan coach, Jamie Joseph feels improvements need to occur, if ranking points are dropped.
Joseph recently stated “Since the last World Cup there’s been two years and there has been a lot of changes in the team, however I’m still confident that we’re going to have enough time to prepare properly for the next World Cup but we’ve got a long way to go.”
Japan will play France in an international in Paris on Saturday looking for a first win over a tier-one nation since that glorious September day in Brighton two years ago.
If Japan are going to set down a marker, a good performance is required.
“We played and we will play tier-one teams this year and by the next year in terms of ranking that’s going to take us back, but in terms of experience that’s going to give us some good things.
Japan have never beaten France. Is this weekend going to see another shock result? The last time the two sides met was at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, with the French coming out on top 47-21. But Japan have had credible victories against tier-two nations Romania – 33-21 in June – and Tonga – 39-6 last weekend in Toulouse – this year, although their matches against the world’s elite have left them bruised.
The touring Irish – depleted due to British and Irish Lions commitments – gave them two hidings in June, 50-22 and 35-13, while at the start of the month Australia turned up in Yokohama and ran in nine tries to three in a 63-30 thumping.
Next year Japan risk suffering another chastening experience with a match against the All Blacks planned.
So…what’s my call on the forthcoming match. Well, it depends on a number of factors.
What French team will turn up? Will the French mentality feel this is an easy match and underprepared? Will a B-team be fielded by France to help with World Cup preparations?
Will Japan build on the Tonga victory and take the game to France in the forwards?
Lots of what-if’s…however you have to say France will be favorites, but you can never write off the Brave Blossoms. If they are to build for the world cup, a close game will be in order and a sneaky win will help build even more confidence for 2019.