Japanese American football coach Jamie Joseph said Wednesday his team was able to make history by approaching the quarterfinals at the World Cup next year.
The 2019 tournament organizers beat Georgia 28-0 last weekend to complete a busy month of home tests with a second win after a series split two matches against Italy.
This is the first time Japan has ranked 12th in the world, but it is the character shown by en.rugby-japan.jp/japan who came back after their second defeat to Italy that made the rare performance of the show.
“In Italian tests, we showed a glimpse of our American football brand – players who are confident and make great decisions,” former All Black told reporters.
Joseph said: “But the Georgia trial shows the commitment and alignment of the team, and we are starting to build exactly the type of character we need to prepare for the World Cup.”
Japan, once the boys whipping of the World Cup, posted three victories at the 2015 tournament according to England’s current coach Eddie Jones, including an astonishing 34-32 upset more than twice the champion South African world.
Their form fell shortly after Joseph took over in 2016 but the Japanese showed real improvement over the past year, especially during a 23-23 tango with France in Paris last November – a match they really should have won.
Joseph had a year of testing the dual mission after taking charge of Sunwolves in Tokyo, but he noted the Super American football competition to strengthen his players.
Japan put Ireland, Scotland, Russia and a play-off winner in Pool A at the World Cup next year but Joseph warned his players, they would need to stop admitting “soft” penalties if they hoped to reach the knockout stage.