Four years after beating South Africa, Japan shock Ireland: biggest Rugby World Cup upsets

A look back on underdog victories from previous Rugby World Cups

Japan players celebrate after winning the Rugby World Cup Pool A match against Ireland 19-12 at the Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa in Shizuoka. AFP
Japan players celebrate after winning the Rugby World Cup Pool A match against Ireland 19-12 at the Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa in Shizuoka. AFP

Hosts Japan pulled off a huge upset on Saturday to defeat Ireland 19-12 at the Rugby World Cup 2019.

Japan, of course, are no strangers when it comes to giving the established sides a bloody nose. Four years after beating South Africa in the Miracle of Brighton they pulled off a Shock in Shizuoka as wing Kenki Fukuoka crossed for a second-half try while Yu Tamura contributed 11 points with the boot.

It ranks alongside some of the greatest underdog victories in Rugby World Cup history.

Here are some others:

Uruguay's Gaston Mieres and Juan Rombys celebrate victory over Fiji at the Rugby World Cup 2019. Reuters
Uruguay's Gaston Mieres and Juan Rombys celebrate victory over Fiji at the Rugby World Cup 2019. Reuters

Fiji 27-30 Uruguay, 2019

Uruguay registered the first score for the underdog of this Rugby World Cup when they beat a Fiji side nine places above them in the World Rugby rankings with a 30-27 win at the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium.

Japan 34-32 South Africa, 2015

Surely rugby’s most spectacular shock. So much so, a movie has already been made about it, starring Temuera Morrison in the role of Japan’s coaching mastermind Eddie Jones.

Fiji 38-34 Wales, 2007

This could have a case for being the best of all World Cup matches, and not just because the less-fancied side ended as winners. A nine-try classic in Nantes.

Western Samoa 16-13 Wales, 1991

A pool-stage upset in the second World Cup which prompted one of the most oft-quoted jokes attributed to Welsh fans: “Thank goodness we weren’t playing the whole of Samoa.”

Updated: September 28, 2019 01:48 PM

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