Cape Town – One of the inspiring things to see come out of the Rugby World Cup has been how South Africa and the Springboks have been embraced by the Japanese.
Ever since the now-infamous 2015 World Cup where Japan beat the Springboks with 34-32 victory in England, the two countries have been linked.
While South Africans were devastated by the loss at the time, it only strengthened the love of rugby for Japan, and on appearance, has allowed the Japanese people to adopt the Springboks as their second favourite rugby team.
After a week of training in Kagoshima before they transferred to Tokyo for an official welcome ceremony, Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus spoke about the support they had received.
“Something that has stood out for me – and I don’t think I’ve seen this anywhere else – is the people of the host nation wearing the jersey of the visiting team – the Springbok badge,” Erasmus said.
“I think that’s been amazing to see the Japanese people wearing the Springbok jersey. I think that shows a lot of respect and I think we can learn a lot from that. It makes us proud to see that and I think you can be proud of how you have supported the World Cup and adopted teams that are visiting here and making them feel at home.”
While the Springboks have already faced Japan in the 2019 World Cup and won, the 41-7 victory has done little to quell the love the Japanese countrymen have for SA.
We’ve managed to take a look at some of the ways Japan has embraced our national rugby team:
The first sign of their love for the Springboks was the viral video of Japan residents singing the national anthem.
Another example has been how they’ve been proudly wearing the green and gold jersey. On one of the Facebook groups, a South African supporter by the name of Nabil Abdool, posted this picture with the caption:
"Just had to share this amazing pic I took of a young Japanese family in Tokyo last week. They were adorned full Bok apparel and learnt our national anthem word for word and sang it with such pride! It was truly an emotional experience. The way the stadium erupted when the Boks made their way onto the field. The Japanese support was unwavering, they displayed compassion and solidarity after our loss to the All Blacks but remain just as optimistic as us. Sport can help bring a nation together, but I learnt that it has the power to unite continents!"
Here are more examples:
* Additional reporting by Wynona Louw.