Japan head coach Jamie Joseph paid tribute to those who lost their lives in Typhoon Hagibis following his side’s 28-21 victory over Scotland – a result which secures a first-ever quarter-final berth for the Brave Blossoms at the Rugby World Cup.
The hosts stormed to a thrilling, pulsating victory in Yokohama, despite falling behind after an early Finn Russell try, that leaves them top of Pool A with four wins from four – two of which came against the Dark Blues and Joe Schmidt’s Ireland.
Speaking in the wake of his team’s victory, which sparked jubilant scenes at the International Yokohama Stadium, Joseph praised the performance of his men but was keen to acknowledge those lost in Typhoon Hagibis, the strongest storm to hit Japan in decades.
“I think you can just look around and see how special a moment this is for our team and for this country,” Joseph told ITV.
“Before we talk about the footy I really want to acknowledge the families that have lost people in the typhoon today; that really motivated our team, we talked about that this morning as a group.
“The players really wanted to play because, whilst we’re celebrating tonight, there are a lot of people who aren’t.
“For my team, we’ve prepared really well and they’ve put their bodies on the line every week but tonight they went to another level I felt. They gave everything they possibly could.”
Gregor Townsend’s men needed an eight-point triumph to book a quarter-final slot and it looked promising when Russell put them ahead early.
But the Brave Blossoms hit back with a series of ceaseless attacks as they repeatedly crashed through the Dark Blues to secure top spot in Pool A and a rematch with their 2015 victims South Africa in Tokyo next Sunday.
Kenki Fukuoka grabbed a double, while star winger Kotaro Matsushima scored his fifth of the tournament – but it was prop Keita Inagaki who finished off a stunning move that will be hard to beat for try of the tournament.
Scotland refused to go down without a fight but second-half scores from forwards WP Nel and Zander Fagerson were not enough to prevent the Scots suffering their second pool exit in three tournaments.