Woodward: Japan win is the biggest RWC moment

Clive Woodward says Japan's victory over SA is the World Cup's greatest moment

Japan’s amazing 34-32 victory over two time Rugby World Cup winners South Africa
is the Rugby World Cup’s greatest moment according to the 2003 World Cup winning
coach Sir Clive Woodward.

Former coach Woodward led England to victory in the 2003 Rugby World Cup by
beating an Eddie Jones led Australian team in the final.

Jones went on to win a World Cup winners medal in 2007 with South Africa as
an assistant coach but for the last four years he has been in charge of Japan.

Writing in his Daily Mail column the former England mentor said that “belief
and courage” combined with clever coaching could make any dream come true.

“Japan’s win over South Africa, engineered by my old mate and sparring
partner Eddie Jones is the greatest single moment in World Cup history and arguably
the most important development the modern game has ever seen,” wrote Woodward.

“To use the technical term it was bloody marvellous.”

“It was a performance of breathtaking brilliance and courage and also
a coaching coup of thrilling panache which sends out a message to the entire
sporting world, not just rugby.

“Underdogs can become world beaters if you truly believe,” added
the 59-year-old, whose side won the 2003 World Cup in dramatic fashion with
a drop goal by English superstar Jonny Wilkinson in the dying seconds of extra-time

Woodward, who is now a well-paid and respected pundit, had his verbal tussles
with Jones down the years when he was coaching, not least during the 2003 campaign
but the Englishman said that was largely for show.

“Eddie is a very engaging and bright guy, great company who calls a spade
a spade,” said Woodward.

“Of all the coaches I ever tangled with, Eddie was — and clearly still
is — absolutely the best in terms of maximising the talent he has available
and thinking outside the box.”

Jones quipped after the victory that he was too old at 55 still to be coaching,
and reaching the quarter-finals would allow him to retire and be like Clive
Woodward sitting in the comfort of a studio.

Also writing in the Daily Mail, Jones said he was delighted that his instruction
to kick a penalty in the final minute to force a draw had been ignored by his
captain Michael Leitch.

“I tried to get the message down to take the kick at goal,” wrote
Jones, who is half Japanese through his mother.

“Luckily, by the time the message got to the players the decision to kick
for touch had already been taken! I thought to myself, ‘fair enough, here we

Jones, who is due to step down from his post after the campaign is over and
has been strongly linked with a coaching role at a South African Super Rugby
side, said emotions had risen to the surface when Karne Hesketh went over in
the left hand corner to score the winning try.

“It was the most emotional I’ve been since coaching the Wallabies to a
semi-final win over the All Blacks at the 2003 World Cup semi-finals,”
said Jones.

“I’ve never seen more grown men in tears. It was an absolutely unbelievable
scene which will live with me for the rest of my life.”

Jones, who used his knowledge of several of the Springbok players to his advantage,
after being an adviser to the 2007 World Cup-winning side, said that Japanese
emotions still bemused him.

“I’ll never cease to wonder at the Japanese psyche,” said Jones.

“These guys seem to cry when they’re happy and laugh when they’re nervous
— it’s almost the opposite of Western behaviour — and the tears were flooding
out on the pitch.”

Jones, whose side have a quick turnaround and play a fresh Scotland side on
Wednesday in Gloucester, said that players such as Leitch and lock Luke Thompson
might not be Japanese-born but they are not carpetbaggers seeking the high of
playing international rugby for any old country.

New Zealand-born Leitch has lived there since he was 15, moving to Japan to
study and says he now speaks Japanese better than English.

“We may have a few players in the Japanese side not born in Japan but
all the players have bought into ‘the Japanese way’.

“It’s what we live by as a side and it’s based around having the courage
to to play our kind of rugby, having pride in the national team and having respect
for yourself and your team-mates.”

Ironically Jones handed his resignation in as Japan coach before the tournament
and has been widely with a move to Cape Town South Africa and Stormers in Super Rugby.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.