South Africa to face hosts Japan in RWC2019 quarterfinals

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KUMAGAYA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 06: South African players line up for the national anthem prior to the international match between Japan and South Africa at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium on September 6, 2019 in Kumagaya, Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
KUMAGAYA, JAPAN – SEPTEMBER 06: Tendai Mtawarira of South Africa takes on Luke Thompson of Japan during the international match between Japan and South Africa at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium on September 6, 2019 in Kumagaya, Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

South Africa will take on Japan in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Rugby World Cup after the hosts edged Scotland 28-21 on Sunday in their final Pool A match in Yokohama.

The win meant Japan finished top of Pool A with four wins from four games above Ireland, who will now play defending champions New Zealand in the quarterfinals.

The quarterfinal between the Springboks and the Brave Blossoms will take place at the Tokyo Stadium in Tokyo on Sunday, October 20.

This is the first time Japan has qualified for the quarterfinals of a Rugby World Cup.

The quarterfinal is also significant as it will be a rematch of the Pool B encounter at the 2015 Rugby World Cup when Japan stunned the two-time world champions 32-34 at the Amex Stadium in Brighton, England.

Japan had been without a win in 18 World Cup matches heading into that game against South Africa, who were champions in 1995 and 2007.

Japan’s win then is widely considered the greatest shock in Rugby World Cup history. However, the Brave Blossoms again stunned the rugby world when they defeated no.2 ranked Ireland 19-12 in Shizuoka in their Pool A game in this year’s tournament.

South Africa and Japan met again just before the start of the Rugby World Cup in a warm-up match at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium in Saitama last month.

On that occasion, the Springboks ran out 41-7 winners with winger Makazole Mapimpi scoring a hat-trick of tries. That match was the Boks’ first ever match in Japan and the second time ever they have faced the Brave Blossoms.

Eight members of South Africa’s Rugby World Cup squad faced Japan in Brighton: Jesse Kriel, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Francois Louw, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Siya Kolisi, Handré Pollard and Eben Etzebeth.

Kriel and Nyakane, however, were ruled out of the tournament due to hamstring and calf muscle injuries respectively.

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