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The enthusiasm, warmth, hospitality and friendliness of the people and the diversity of Japan’s cultures, its sights and sounds, Tokyo’s amazing fish markets, the temples, the parks, the infrastructure and, of course, the ever-dependable trains, and not least its night life, made for a memorable tournament.
The narrow alleyways and tiny bars of the Golden Gai had to be seen to be believed, and likewise, after a month-long build up to Halloween, the 100,000 or so in costumes who descended upon the famous Shibuya Crossing. You name it, they wore it, and many more you would never have considered.
And with each of Japan’s victories the public seemed to embrace the tournament more and more.
Typhoon Hagibis was the 19th typhoon of the season and estimated to be the most devastating typhoon to hit the Kanto region since 1958. It caused widespread damage across Japan and as of October 20th at least 86 people were confirmed dead and eight others went missing.
It kind of put two cancelled rugby matches in perspective and the organisers weren’t helped by the rainy season enduring, unusually, until mid-October. Even so there didn’t seem to be much in the way of contingency plans and due to the cancellation of the England-France and New Zealand-Italy games, the 2019 World Cup will always have an asterisk against its name.
Although Japan’s win over Ireland coloured our perspective, there’s no doubt their daring, energetic, high-tempo rugby thrilled not just home fans and for pure undiluted unwavering fun, their thriller with a like-minded Scotland, who died with their boots on, lifted the senses.
After the All Blacks’ high-calibre game with the Boks on the opening weekend, it was Ireland’s misfortune to run into them on their best of days, before England unforgettably wrenched the trophy from their grasp.
Ireland’s exit, most obviously, and some of the fallout from it, was top of this tree. It was sad to see such a high-achieving group of players and management give their all for such an anti-climactic departure.
Other lows were the Sebastien Vahaamahina red card, after France had shown up, but Scotland didn’t, nor did Argentina and, to an extent, Australia, while the Pacific Islands, collectively, probably had their worst World Cup.
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