Finn Russell Rugby World Cup: Japan enthral a nation and beyond as they storm into quarter-finals

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Japan 28 Scotland 21

Some days a country is unbeatable. Ireland against England under Croke Park’s glare in 2007. New Zealand the week after any All Black loss.

And now, Japan in Yokohama mere hours after the treacherous Hagibis forced the curfew of millions.

“Nippon! Nippon! Nippon!” reverberated around the Kanagawa Prefecture and deep down the string of 6,852 islands.

Nobody was going home. Some people cannot go home ever again.

Normality has been suspended since Japan shocked Ireland in Shizuoka.

Normality has also been destroyed forever by natural disaster.

“We woke up this morning and 19 people were killed in the typhoon with a further 12 people still missing,” said Jamie Joseph. “We talked about that as a team. Sometimes those sorts of things can be overwhelming but I think the players, particularly when times were really really tough, it helped us. So while we are celebrating a lot of people are suffering.”

Finn Russell Japan captain Michael Leitch attempts to carry the ball past Scotland prop WP Nel during the Rugby World Cup Pool A match at the International Stadium in Yokohama. Photograph: William West/AFP via Getty Images
Japan captain Michael Leitch attempts to carry the ball past Scotland prop WP Nel during the Rugby World Cup Pool A match at the International Stadium in Yokohama. Photograph: William West/AFP via Getty Images

Fear no longer exists in the Japanese psyche. If it ever did. Joseph tells no lies. The huge Kiwi coach promised his team would not be consumed by expectation or the ever increasing external din.

“It’s just noise,” he keeps repeating.

Now, they can focus everything on repeating the Brighton miracle of 2015, on toppling the gargantuan South Africans next Sunday in Tokyo in the ultimate clash of styles.

“It’s intense it’s error free,” said Ian McGeechan, the Scots greatest rugby man at half-time on ITV. “Scotland cannot get the ball.”

The Springboks will get the ball.

“When we play tier one teams the first area they come for us is our set-piece,” said Joseph. “They will try and squeeze us and put pressure there, but in the last four or five games we have done ok there, and that’s allowed us to create the way we want to play the game of rugby and you have witnessed what that can be like if we can match, better or hold the bigger set-pieces in world rugby.”

After every warm-up Japan gather in a wide unaggressive huddle. After patient

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