It was a sporting shock for the ages, along with the Miracle on Ice at Lake Placid in 1980, and England's football defeat at the hands of the USA in 1950.

Japan were 66/1 outsiders with some bookmakers ahead of their clash with South Africa in Brighton, but managed the biggest upset in World Cup history. Michael Burgess gets the inside story.

With 80 minutes up on the clock, Japan captain Michael Leitch was facing the biggest decision of his rugby career.

After a remarkable performance, the Brave Blossoms were a successful penalty kick away from a draw with South Africa.

They trailed 32-29, and the shot was from a handy angle. So what to do – pick or stick?

With time up, one mistake or one fumble and the match was over. But with the Springboks reduced to 14 men, the right play could result in a try.

Advertisement
Michael Leitch of Japan passes the ball in the Rugby World Cup pool game against South Africa. Photosport
Michael Leitch of Japan passes the ball in the Rugby World Cup pool game against South Africa. Photosport

Leitch
We got the call from our water boy, that came from [coach] Eddie

Advertisement