Japan v South Africa – A Historic Day In Rugby



This is Brighton.  My home town. I have tickets to this game based on that alone. I go to the match with no expectations or particular interest.

Being impartial means that I can sit back and relax a little. The stadium is small (capacity is just over 27,000) and intimate, and my seat is so close to the field that I can see the expressions on the faces of the players. As I sit down, I think I will probably not watch until the end though – there is one road back into town and it will be packed solid for hours. I need to avoid the traffic.

Soon though, I have forgotten about traffic. I have forgotten about just about anything other than this game.

It is the sort of game that will be talked about for years. It is end to end, fast, passionate, and completely surprising. More than once, I look down at my phone to write a tweet, and by the time I look up again, the play has moved the entire length of the field.

From the start, the crowd are behind Japan, the underdog, obviously. As the game goes on, the crowd grows more and more excited and they roar their appreciation of what they are witnessing. At the end, I cry. I don’t know why. I think it is just the pure, unadulterated passion that surrounds me. And it is also because of the sheer, emotion-filled reaction of the Japanese fans around me.

It is the very best of rugby; the very best of sport; and the very best of life.

All in my home town, too.