Dubai: Lightning struck twice as Japan stunned the sporting world with arguably the biggest upset in the history of the sport when they defeated world No. 2 team Ireland 19-12 at Shizuoka in the Rugby World Cup on Saturday.
Japan sent shock waves across the globe when they defeated South Africa in the ‘Miracle of Brighton’ four years ago on the biggest stage in England.
But they went one better this time around as they humbled the Irish in front of a manic and passionate home crowd.
The substitutes, coaches and physios streamed on to the pitch to embrace their heroes as the final whistle went, leaving the men in green crestfallen and knowing they will have a lot of questions to answer as they come to terms with creating an unwanted piece of history.
Trailing at the break, the Brave Blossoms took the lead through a Kenki Fukuoka try midway through the second half and hung on desperately with a courageous defensive effort.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt told ITV: "I felt we played well in the first quarter, we got into a 12-3 lead and then stopped playing. We probably fell on the wrong side of the penalty count. Three or four of them were for offsides that we felt were pretty tough. It just gave them the front foot and they didn't button off. Congratulations to Japan, what an intense effort that was. We knew that was coming but we are disappointed we didn't manage to control the end of the game."
Japan stand-in captain Pieter Labuschagne said: "We are really happy. It is difficult top put it into words but I'm proud of every man and it was a great team effort. That [South Africa 2015] was a great game but we came into this tournament with a new goal. We knew what we wanted to do and we backed ourselves. I just want to thank everyone for taking time to come and support us. They were amazing."