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It was a triumph over adversity, a triumph of endurance, a triumph of wit, and resilience and imagination. And if all Japan had done, as a country, was just get this game on and maintained the integrity of the Rugby World Cup, it would still have been all of those things.
But they did more. They won it, too. Won it with all the qualities that, as a nation, see them through earthquakes and typhoons and, on the rarest occasions as occurred Saturday night, both at once.
Amid sadness and tragedy this somehow became a great night for the hosts. The solemnity that preceded the match was replaced by a joyous and fervent outpouring of emotion, and a lap of honour in a part of the world in which that concept carries real weight.
Japan produced a stunning display to become the first Asian team to reach the quarter-finals
Japan now face a quarter-final against South Africa, who they famously beat four years ago
This was an honourable win, for it proved that Japan did not, after all, need assistance from the organisers to progress. If there had been talk of not playing in Yokohama it was because typhoons and tremors are finite, vicious beasts, not some fiction created to see Japan through to their first quarter-final.
Scotland’s talk of legal action appeared a little foolish, given that Japan had earned their four-try bonus point three minutes into the second half.
And although Scotland fought back gamely from there and ultimately lost by the breadth of a converted try, the honour remained with the victors: the honour of winning the match, of winning the pool, of moving mountains so that there was no sign of the carnage that befell this area 24 hours earlier.
Yu Tamura (top) congratulates Keita Inagaki after he scored Japan’s second try of the game
It was as if it did not happen, Typhoon Hagibis. Bar a limited level of available refreshments in the venue, bar what appeared to be a washed-out electrical advertising perimeter, bar the odd scuff marks in the turf where the scrums had been, this game was entirely as envisaged by the 72,000 fans who bought tickets and whose contract was fulfil
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