Rugby World Cup 2015: South Africa v Japan

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Pool B

South Africa v Japan

Sunday September 20, 1.45am


South Africa enter the tournament after a poor year by their high standards. Since the 2014 Rugby Championship they’ve won just three from eight and finished bottom in this year’s edition, however there are reasons to be optimistic for The Boks. Firstly, they lost 10/21 games leading into the 2007 World Cup before winning their opener 59-7 against a dangerous Samoan side and then going onto lift the trophy; they have a better record coming into this year having lost 8/21. Secondly, in a relatively easy pool, with the only threat coming from Samoa and Scotland, they will have a chance to play themselves back into form before a likely quarter-final against England, Australia or Wales.

Their opponents Japan are under a little extra pressure to perform this campaign given that they are hosting the tournament in 2019 and their coach, Australia’s 2003 World Cup manager Eddie Jones, has set them a target of a top-10 ranking by then. They’ve rapidly improved in the last few years having won 16 of their last 20 matches but recent losses to USA, Fiji and Tonga in the Pacific Nations Cup highlight there is still a long way to go.

These two nations have never met before but South Africa historically have never been troubled by teams of a similar ilk as Japan in past World Cups. In the last three tournaments they have met Uruguay, Georgia, USA and Namibia and have won by an average winning margin of 57 points conceding just three tries while going over 40 times themselves. Only against Georgia did they not win by more than 45 points and that was back in 2003.

Japan, meanwhile, have had a tendency to get blown away against the stronger teams in their pools. In the last three World Cups they have an average losing margin of 48 points against the top-two finishers in the group. That includes heavy defeats of 3-91 and 7-83 against the other southern hemisphere powerhouses Australia and New Zealand in 2007 and 2011.


Key Statistics

  • South Africa have just three wins in their last eight.
  • South Africa lost 10/21 games going into the 2007 WC, they have lost 8/21 leading up to this one.
  • The last time SA lost a group game was in 2003 vs England who went on to win the World Cup
  • This is the first meeting ever between South Africa and Japan.
  • Japan have won 16 of their last 20 matches but have only led at HT in 11 of them.
  • Japan haven’t won a World Cup match since 1991 but have drawn in last two tournaments.


Recommendation: South Africa -44.5 points 2.04