Owen Farrell High emotions, poignant anthems, haka challenges – the World Cup’s unforgettable moments

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Owen Farrell Richie McCaw at the opening ceremony

Richie McCaw, who won the tournament with New Zealand in 2015, played a key part in the opening ceremony on 20 September

After 44 days of fierce competition, the 2019 Rugby World Cup is over.

The first tournament in Asia featured a breakthrough performance from the hosts, a devastating typhoon, superb supporters and, in South Africa, worthy champions who look to unite a troubled nation.

Here are our unforgettable moments from an enthralling six weeks.

Uruguay’s sheer joy

Uruguay’s Gaston Mieres and Juan Rombys celebrate their shock win over Fiji

Kamaishi, a city reborn after the devastating tsunami in 2011, unexpectedly hosted one of the matches of the tournament. Uruguay had won only two World Cup matches in their history prior to their clash with Fiji, the last one 16 years ago.

With just 22 professional players, the South Americans upset the odds spectacularly with a 30-27 victory. The final whistle brought tears of happiness and huge celebration for the Uruguayans.

  • How rugby helped Kamaishi recover from 2011 tsunami

Japan’s seismic victory that ignited the World Cup

Japan pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Rugby World Cup history as they beat Ireland 19-12 in Shizuoka

One of the great unknowns about Japan 2019 was how the host team would perform.

The omens were not good when they suffered a 41-7 drubbing at the hands of eventual champions South Africa in a warm-up match. But after a nervous start they overcame Russia 30-10 and then lit up the tournament with an incredible 19-12 upset of Ireland, roared on by a passionate and partisan crowd.

A stylish win over Scotland saw them top their pool but they fell short in the quarter-finals against the Springboks, who squeezed the life out of them with a gargantuan defensive effort.

But they won plenty of new admirers with their entertaining brand of attacking rugby.

  • How Japan became a force to be reckoned with

Wearing the colours on your chest

One Japanese fan painted on his side’s national shirt

World Rugby took the tournament to Japan to find new fans in Asia, but no-one could be sure of the reception in a country in love with football and baseball.

They need not have worried. Fans embraced the tournament more than even the most optimistic of organisers could have hoped.

They packed out the stadiums – even a dreary Italy-Namibia match in the pouring rain was played in front of full stands – as the Japanese adopted other teams, complete with replica shirts and singing the anthems.

But one fan took it to another level.

Hiroshi Moriyama, more commonly known as Bak-san, decided to paint his torso in the colours of all 20 participating teams, earning him celebrity status.

  • Things we love about the World Cup in Japan

All Black flair at its best

TJ Perenara finishes off a great New Zealand move against Namibia in the corner

There were 285 tries scored in Japan but TJ Perenara’s acrobatic finish in the corner after a dazzling bit of tr

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