Winger Kotaro Matsushima scored a hat-trick as Japan overcame a severe case of opening-night nerves to give the host nation a winning start to the Rugby World Cup with a 30-10 victory over a spirited Russia side on Friday.
After an opening ceremony featuring a dazzling laser light show and appearances by Japan’s Crown Prince Akishino and All Blacks great Richie McCaw, there were quickly a few fireworks on the pitch.
The Russians, laid on as sacrificial lambs for the opening party, stunned the noisy crowd of 48,745 into silence when they pounced on a Japanese error and scored the tournament’s first try through winger Kirill Golosnitskiy in the fourth minute.
Man of the Match Matsushima replied with Japan’s first try seven minutes later but it was not until he went over for his second just before the break that the error-prone home side took the lead at 12-7.
Japan looked more direct after the break and flanker Pieter Labuschagne soon extended the lead with an individual effort, stripping the ball from an opponent and then running a third of the pitch to touchdown under the posts.
Russia kept coming at the home side but 12 minutes from time Matsushima again showed his pace on the outside to secure the bonus point that might be key to Japan’s hopes of advancing from Pool A, which also includes Ireland, Scotland and Samoa.
“You get out there and realise just how much pressure there is on the night,” Japan coach Jamie Joseph told reporters.
“Our kicking game was pretty poor tonight so we’re going to fix that up quickly,” he added, conceding that his team made a lot of unforced errors.
Russia, who only qualified when Romania and Spain were disqualified for using ineligible players, impressed throughout with their hard tackling and a willingness to take the game to their opponents.
The Bears also bullied Japan’s scrum on more than one occasion and troubled the hosts with their direct running, a tactic Japan’s other Pool A opponents will look to emulate with greater efficiency.
The home side looked a different proposition on the few occasions they managed to get the ball through hands out to the wings and South Africa-born Matsushima cashed in with the first World Cup hat-trick for a Japan player.
He could have had a fourth only for the TMO to adjudge that he had not grounded the ball properly but a further inflated scoreline would have been unfair on the Russians, who put their bodies on the line for the full 80 minutes.
“It is playing at an intensity and focus our players aren’t used to. They kept the ball in play as much as they could. Our boys are just not used to that,” Russia’s Welsh coach Lyn Jones said.
“Tier one just isn’t what we are used to – it’s a different sport. We have prepared for a year for it to be as close as possible.”
The Russians next take on Samoa on Sept 24, while Japan go up against the number one-ranked Irish in Fukuroi City on Sept 28 in a match the hosts will be desperate to win if they wish to progress to the quarter-finals for the first time.
They will need a much-improved performance to get anywhere close to what would be a stunning upset to rank with their win over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup.
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Vybz Kartel and Mr. Vegas in heated online battle
Dancehall legend Vybz Kartel has clapped back at Mr. Vegas with a scathing online statement.
This is after Mr. Vegas called out Kartel’s fans popularly known as Gaza Nation for going on a social media rant after their icon’s appeal was dismissed.
In a recent post on social media dancehall artist, Mr. Vegas spoke out about Vybz Kartel’s murder case.
A number of Gaza fans were quick to downplay the gruesome murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams as they protested for their artist to be freed from his prison cell.
Mr. Vegas said it is inhumane for the Gazanation to downplay the significance of Lizzard’s life and went on to narrate how Kartel should not be given special treatment and should serve the full sentence.
“When it comes on to the Vybz Kartel case and the people who want to put out certain rhetoric, I find them disappointing and disheartening, Now when a man a goes and says nothing when Lizard got killed cause he was a ‘nobody’, as if it’s nothing that he got killed ’cause he was a bad man, he was a murderer, he was a killer, he did this, he did that. I find the talk very disappointing people.” He said
Kartel responded in a post that was soon deleted terming Vegas as a washed out artist.
“Da bredda still exist? First of all, I’ve made so many youths into millionaires, both in and out of music. Plus I’ve given much more [to] my parents, sisters, brothers & other relatives and personal friends. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, MY CHILDREN WORSHIP AND ADORE ME! And all my baby mamas respect me as a REAL MAN WHO LOVES HIS KIDS. So I don’t need validation from washed up celebs or from a society of criminals, the CIA consistently ranks it so HIGH in the corruption index it’s a wonder we haven’t floated to the clouds.” He said
Vybz Kartel also laughed at the Jamaican justice system stating that his incarceration has not reduced the crime rate in Jamaica.
Kartel said while the government is so concerned with keeping him captive, there have been over 12,000 more deaths since September 30, 2011, when he was first arrested.
“Impressionable little brainwashed slaves. Dem only can brainwash butu and dunce like unuh so gwan buy into the illusion.” He said
Athletes reflect on super congested 2022 international season
Will it be possible to double or not?
That is the question that has seen both coaches and athletes going into spin with the World Athletics Championships and Commonwealth Games falling in the same period in 2022.
This state of affairs could now force Athletics Kenya to name separate teams in most events for the two world competitions.
On Wednesday, World Athletics announced that the World Championships that had been postponed from this year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic will now be staged from July 15 to 24 in Oregon, United States.
The 22nd Commonwealth Games will take place from July 27 to August 7 in Birmingham, England.
World Athletics postponed the World Championships that were to originally take place in July next year in Oregon after the International Olympic Committee rescheduled the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games from July 24-August 9 to July 23-August 8, 2021.
Renowned athletics coach Bernard Ouma and elite athletes, World and Commonwealth 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri, 2015 World javelin champion Julius Yego and 2016 Rio Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Chepng’etich expressed different opinion after the changes.
Ouma said it will be difficult for athletes especially in middle and long distances races to double especially with fatigue creeping while Yego, the 2014 Commonwealth javelin champion, noted that top elite athlete are likely to choose the World Championships over the Commonwealth Games.
Chepng’etich, who won the World 1,500m title in 2017 London before settling for silver in 2019 Doha, said that it will difficult for someone to double with health and form key factors.
Obiri, the 2016 Rio Olympics 5,000m silver medallist, who retained her World title in Doha last year also said it would be difficult for someone to double considering there was also the Diamond League and World Continental Tour events.
“Commonwealth Games will take two weeks hence it will take an excellent athlete to double. Actually, doubling will not be the best option since. It could be a costly gamble,” said Ouma.
UK-based Sesay ‘100 per cent ready’ for Kenya call-up
Crawley Town’s English defender David Sesay has seemingly had a change of heart on playing for Kenya.
While responding to questions from his fans on the English club’s official Twitter account on Wednesday, the League Two defender said that he is now ready to answer a call up from Kenya’s Harambee Stars coach Francis Kimanzi.
“I will hundred per cent accept the call up from Kenya,” he confirmed.
The 21-year-old defender was called up for international duty by then Stars coach Sebastien Migne in the run up to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt last year, but declined the invite to concentrate on his club career.
Sesay explained he had to make a difficult decision in turning down the opportunity to compete at the Africa Nations Cup in Cairo, where Kenya lost to eventual finalists Senegal and Algeria, and beat rivals Tanzania in Group “C”, as he was focused in helping his side battle relegation at the time.
“That (Kenya) is where my mum comes from. It is my heritage. Last time I had just broken into the first team here and was playing games in a row,” said Sesay.
“We were not in the best position in the league. There were some few media outlets in Kenya that said I declined the call up, that wasn’t the case.
I think those that needed to understand my decision did understand.”
Should Kimanzi hand the West Bromwich Albion-target a chance in his team, he will have to compete for a starting position at left-back with Sweden based defender Eric “Marcelo” Ouma, and veteran Aboud Omar who is unattached.
Stars face a congested fixture period when the coronavirus pandemic is curbed, with matches against Comoros, Egypt and Togo in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
The team is also pooled alongside Uganda, Rwanda and Mali in the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.
League Two is England’s fourth tier football league.
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