Japan won the game. Chile won the occasion.
Chile’s debut at the Rugby World Cup went better than anyone expected even though it lost to Japan 42-12 on Sunday.
Los Condores were willing and able and gave Japan, a quarterfinalist at the last World Cup, a hard time in an entertaining match. They even had a sizeable amount of support at Stadium de Toulouse judging by all of the red jerseys.
Injured captain Kazuki Himeno was a late withdrawal but Japan still started with nine players with World Cup experience and bagged the win and bonus point from six converted tries.
But they also conceded two tries and were tattooed by Chilean defenders in baking conditions.
The Chileans’ confidence and trust in each other that Japan found so difficult to crack was apparent. Many of them grew up playing together and have honed their combination at Selknam, Chile’s pro club in Super Rugby Americas. Chile knocked out Canada and the United States to qualify for the World Cup and hasn’t won a fixture since but it attracted new fans for its resiliency and ambition. Japan missed 28 tackles.
Some Rugby World Cup debutants have suffered in some horrible first games down the years; Georgia lost to England 84-6 in 2003; Namibia lost to Fiji 67-18 in 1999; Ivory Coast lost to Scotland 89-0 in 1995.
But Japan quickly discovered it was in a contest in the sixth minute when Chile scored the opening try.