Japan’s Rugby World Cup RecordSports
After winning all four of its Pool A matches, Japan has made it to the quarterfinal stage of the Rugby World Cup for the first time. Here we look back on the country’s record in past tournaments.
Japan’s Rugby World Cup Record
|1987||New Zealand||Miyaji Katsumi||3L (did not advance)|
|1991||England||Shukuzawa Hiroaki||1W, 2L (did not advance)|
|1995||South Africa||Koyabu Osamu||3L (did not advance)|
|1999||Wales||Hirao Seiji||3L (did not advance)|
|2003||Australia||Mukai Shōgo||4L (did not advance)|
|2007||France||John Kirwan||1D, 3L (did not advance)|
|Japan 3 Australia 91|
|Japan 31 Fiji 35|
|Japan 18 Wales 72|
|Japan 12 Canada 12|
|2011||New Zealand||John Kirwan||1D, 3L (did not advance)|
|Japan 21 France 47|
|Japan 7 New Zealand 83|
|Japan 18 Tonga 31|
|Japan 23 Canada 23|
|2015||England||Eddie Jones||3W, 1L (did not advance)|
|Japan 34 South Africa 32|
|Japan 10 Scotland 45|
|Japan 26 Samoa 5|
|Japan 28 United States 18|
|2019||Japan||Jamie Joseph||4W (Pool stage)|
|Japan 30 Russia 10|
|Japan 19 Ireland 12|
|Japan 38 Samoa 19|
|Japan 28 Scotland 21|
At the first Rugby World Cup in 1987, Japan began with a narrow 21–18 defeat against the United States before suffering a 60–7 thrashing against England. A 42–23 loss to Australia rounded off the campaign. While Japan also exited at the pool stage in 1991, defeats against Scotland and Ireland were followed by a heartening first tournament victory, as the Brave Blossoms saw off Zimbabwe 52–8.
Years of Defeats
At the third tournament in South Africa in 1995, Japan underwent another whitewash, losing to Wales, Ireland, and New Zealand. The record-breaking 145–17 defeat to the All Blacks was a particularly bitter blow. There was no great improvement in 1999, as Japan again lost all three of its pool games. Current coach Jamie Joseph represented Japan in the tournament, having previously appeared for New Zealand.
In 2003, Japan lost to Scotland, Fiji, France, and the United States. The 2007 tournament, however, saw a slight upturn in fortunes, as defeats to Australia, Fiji, and Wales were followed by a 12–12 draw against Canada. This brought an end to a 13-match run of consecutive defeats in the competition finals. In 2011, Japan began with losses to France, New Zealand, and Tonga. It led at half-time in its final game against Canada, but had to settle for another draw, this time 23–23.
South Africa Shock
Japan’s World Cup record to date gave no hint of what was to come in 2015. Eddie Jones of Australia took charge of the team in 2012, steadily raising its standard. In the first pool game of the tournament in England, Japan won a historic 34–32 victory against South Africa, then ranked third in the world. Although a loss against Scotland followed, wins against Samoa and the United States left Japan with three victories and one defeat in the pool. Unfortunately, this was not enough, as Japan fell short in bonus points and failed to progress to the next stage.
(Originally published in Japanese. Banner photo: Michael Leitch and other Japanese players celebrate reaching the quarterfinal stage of the Rugby World Cup for the first time after defeating Scotland at International Stadium Yokohama on October 13, 2019. © Jiji.)