Japan, this is no time to follow England

CoffeeJapan’  rugby team looked like it was headed in the same direction as the last country to host the Rugby World Cup: Not finding its way out of pool play and into the quarter finals. The “Cherry Blossoms” (trying to make that name fit into the game of rugby) let Russia’s high kicks fall to the ground, and one of them into the hands of a Russian back who scored the first points of the 2019 RWC.

Cherry Blossoms got over their nervous start in a stadium mostly filled with their countrymen and bloomed later in the game to win 30-10 in the first of 48 games in the tournament. But they will have lots to work on if they don’t want to end up like England, the 2015 host, who failed to advance into the playoff round of the tourney. That was especially embarrassing to England, where rugby got its start. However, England has been in the playoffs before and won the RWC in 2003.

Japan has never advanced out of pool play even though they won three matches, including an upset of South Africa and beating the United States, in 2015. They did not collect enough bonus points then to advance.

Last night — oops, make that this morning at 3:30 — Japan picked up one bonus point for scoring four tries in the match. Bonus points are also awarded to losers who stay within seven points of the winning team. No bonus points for Russia.

To advance, Japan has to pile up bonus points and find a way to beat those in their pool: Ireland, ranked No. 1 in the RWC; Scotland (a chance of an upset) and Samoa (betting on Japan).

Australia vs. Fiji is tonight at a decent time here in Seattle — 9:30, and then I will fill my coffee cup and get into my favorite sweater, blankies and my couch for early morning viewing for the New Zealand-South Africa game at 2:30 Saturday morning. Could be the best game of the tournament.

Now, time for a nap.

2019 Rugby World Cup starts in 5 hours

JBS 2015
Rugby reporter, 2015

I started this blog four years ago when Kathy and I lived in Oxford, England, for two months so that I could have a “once in a lifetime” experience of attending the Rugby World Cup. Probably should have told Kathy that maybe it was a “couple of times in a lifetime” experience.

But I did not, and so I am waiting for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, being held in Japan, to come my way through either TV or some live-streaming app that I paid too much for, but it’s cheaper than living in England for two months.

First game – Japan vs. Russia – starts at 3:30 Friday morning here in the Pacific Northwest, which is not where I will be watching as many of the 48 games as I can. We’re hitting the road right in the middle of the RWC as it continues through the end of October. Will there be wifi in the Serengeti? Not sure, but will report on rugby, lions, elephants and the croc-infested Mara River.

(And don’t come over to burgle my house as it is guarded by boarders and a fierce cat.)

No press credentials this time around, but the off-the-field antics should be interesting.

And who knows? The 2023 Rugby World Cup is in France. So, Kathy, how about two months in gay Paree?