#4 The last pool match will be the best pool match.
The 40th match of RWC2019, and the last of the pool matches, will be Japan vs Scotland on 13 October in Yokohama.
Why this matters
Japan and Scotland are in Pool B, along with Ireland, Samoa and Russia.
Ireland are very short odds to win all their matches, Russia are very short odds to lose all their matches, and Samoa could be anywhere between great and forgettable.
The second team from Pool B to advance to the quarter finals is very likely to be the winner of Match 40.
Scotland’s advantages are that they have a long history of playing Tier 1 teams, they have a smart coach, some good-ish players, and they can play with heart.
Japan’s advantages are that they are playing at home, and they have been targetting this one match for ten plus years. They want to be in the quarter finals like you would not believe, and they know that if they get there, then anything is possible. (Not probable, no: but possible.)
The Brave Blossoms’ victory over South Africa in RWC2015 was a shock to everyone who wasn’t paying attention, and it got Eddie Jones the England coaching gig because, you know, the English have too much money and just didn’t think it through but that’s another story.
But this match, this match, is going to be out of sight. All or nothing, go big or go home, glory or despair.
Most people forget, or probably never ever knew, that Japan was instrumental in getting the Rugby World Cup off the ground back in 1987.
The International Rugby Board orcs were not at all keen on the idea, but Australia and New Zealand pushed it ahead, and Shiggy Konno (the biggest of wheels in Japan rugby, who as a young man had been training as a kamikaze pilot in the last months of the war) came through with a chunk of commercial support. Japan was one of the teams invited to participate in the 1987 Cup, scoring 7 tries but not winning a match.