On 4 June 1995, Japan Rugby Union’s national side, the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) took the field against the New Zealand All Blacks at the Rugby World Cup in South Africa, only to suffer a humiliating 145-17 defeat.
In 2003, in their opening game at Rugby World Cup, they threw everything at Scotland, earning a standing ovation from the Townsville, Queensland crowd and a guard of honour from the Scots at full time.
On 19 September 2015, the Brave Blossoms took the field against twice rugby world cup champions, South Africa’s Springboks and fought their way to victory with a tenacious 34-32 win in injury time.
At the Japanese helm, was a previously deposed former Australian national coach, and Australian hooker, Eddie Jones.
A man, some players and officials in Australian rugby circles preferred to ridicule rather than support with resources and common courtesies when he was at the helm of the Wallabies, ACT Brumbies and Qld Reds.
Thankfully for World Rugby, Japan Rugby Union had a little more foresight and embraced a stray Aussie with Japanese heritage and an affinity with the land of the rising sun.
Subsequently, a man who has already confirmed he will be stepping down post #RWC2015 has gallantly and intelligently led the Brave Blossoms to their first RWC Cup win against a top tier nation.
Take a bow Eddie, can’t wait to see what your boys deliver for the rest of the tournament.