clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Japan stuns South Africa in biggest Rugby World Cup upset ever

New, comments
Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Japan has stunned the world with a wholly unbelievable 34-32 win over South Africa in the Rugby World Cup. Before Saturday, the Cherry Blossoms hadn't won a World Cup game in 24 years when Japan defeated Zimbabwe in 1991. They knocked off one of the favorites to win the whole thing.

Penalties were the Springboks' downfall, with South Africa giving up five conversions. The back-breaker came in the 84th minute when Karne Hesketh scored a try to allow Japan to pull ahead. The best part: They could have tied with a penalty kick, but Japanese coach Eddie Jones wanted the try and put the ball back in his players' hands.

The significance of this win cannot be understated. It's the equivalent of the "Miracle on Ice," but with an even less likely outcome. Japanese rugby fans were hoping their team could compete, not beat one of the five best teams in the world. Springbok fans were stunned, and Japan fans were crying in the stands.

The United States plays in Pool B along with Japan, and a South Africa loss is a huge boon to the Eagles' chances of advancing. This isn't about discussing what will happen with USA though, it's about Japan and their stunning win. The photos of Japan's joyous celebration are what sports are all about.

Photos via Julian Finney/Getty Images