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.
We got the call from our water boy, that came from [coach] Eddie Jones, to kick the goal and take the draw.
[But] I talked to the forwards and they were pretty keen on trying to push the South Africans over and score from there.
In the commentary box, Gordon Bray and former Springbok Joel Stransky debated the decision.
Do they go for the draw, or do they go for the win?
A draw would be an unbelievable result, but you still have to kick it over under enormous pressure. A win would be the upset of all upsets, of all time … in the history of sport.
Leitch elected to roll the dice.
Leading up to the penalty, Japan had engineered a 14-man maul, driving the Boks over their line, but were held up. For the resultant scrum the Boks brought on the heavy artillery of Jannie du Plessis, but the Japanese hadn't lost a scrum on their feed all day.
The general consensus in the team was "let's have a crack". So it wasn't an individual decision, it was a collective one.
We had a plan. They had one in the bin so we would go for the pushover try.
If that doesn't work, we will stretch them to the very edge and then bring it right back to the other side.
What about the nerves around the decision, given what was at stake?
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We trained under extreme fatigue and extreme chaos. We felt like we had been in that situation, so we knew how to handle it.
And I thought I would rather go down fighting than have that shot at goal and miss and for ever have that regret in the back of my mind.
The Boks tried to wheel the scrum with a massive shove. The referee sets another scrum, which collapses. Leitch talked to his front row to calm their nerves, as the game enters the second minute of injury time.
They attack the blindside. Japan then goes right, with each phase repelled. Leitch is pulled down near the corner, before they revert back left.
Swift passing finds Amanaki Mafi, the Tongan-born No 8 who is one of 16 children.
He fends off one defender, then finds replacement wing Karne Hesketh.
Hesketh, who left Hawke's Bay to play in Japan six years earlier, sprints for the corner, as the stadium erupts.
"Our eyes have seen the glory. It's a rugby miracle. Eddie Jones is the president of Japan. It's a national holiday."
I was on the other side of the field. Both my legs were cramped up and I was at the bottom of a ruck when I heard the crowd go nuts.
I couldn't actually see what was happening and I thought 'Oh shit — we have lost'. Then I got up and I could see my No 3 running towards me. We had won. I couldn't believe it.
The Springboks were congratulating us. But they were also really disappointed.
They had been focusing on Samoa, rather than focusing on us.
Their heads were a week ahead. Schalk [Burger] and the other boys were saying, 'don't take these guys lightly', but they did and they got done."
Japan first five-eighth Kosei Ono was in dreamland, but felt for some friends among the Springboks.
I played with Schalk Burger and Fourie du Preez at my club in Japan. I was going through the biggest high of my life and they were going through their biggest low so it was a weird feeling.
When I shook Schalk's hand I just said 'thanks for the game' and tried to walk off. But he has got these huge hands — like baseball mitts — and he held on to my hand and said.
'Mate, make sure you hold on to this moment as you will never get something like this in your rugby life again'.
Burger had been diagnosed with viral meningitis in 2013, and at one stage there were fears for his life before he made a staggering comeback.
I will never forget what he said.
Schalk was lying on his death bed and had been told by his family that he will never play rugby again. So for him to say something like that, he obviously had that perspective immediately after the game, which was pretty cool.
Senior Japan Rugby Union administrator Koji Tokumasu, who had led Japan's successful bid to host the 2019 tournament, was in the stands.
When the match started there were not many people cheering for Japan. But as the game progressed you heard more and more people, and at the end of the match everyone was cheering on Japan. It is still very clear in my mind … the try that surprised the world."
Commentating for ITV, 1995 Cup-winning captain Francois Pienaar was awestruck.
They were so brave. They could easily have gone for the penalty. They went for the scrum, which should be a South African strength. Throughout the game, the Japanese team took the South Africans on, man on man.
An excited Sir Clive Woodward talked about their "serious cojones" while British decathlon legend Daley Thompson tweeted the feelings of many.
Whenever the little guy beats Goliath, it so enriches our lives and lets us all believe that the impossible is possible. Thank you Japan
It was the biggest upset in Cup history, and only Japan's second tournament victory in 24 years. But it wasn't a complete surprise to the Japanese team, given their preparation.
They had endured brutal pre-World Cup camps, where Jones had them training up to four times a day. They had methodically dissected their opponents and had vital Super Rugby experience among their squad.
But not many among the 33,666 crowd gave them a chance, as they took the field at 4:45pm on a fine autumn afternoon, to face the most experienced Springboks unit assembled (849 caps)
I went to the 2007 World Cup and then missed out in 2011. So just going to another one was great. I thought, now I am back here, I better make the most of it.
After five minutes, I said to myself something is going to happen today, because the atmosphere on the pitch was different.
Fullback Ayumu Goromaru kicked the first points of the match, after making a promising bust. South Africa twice drove over for tries with their lethal maul, but Japan showed they were up for the fight when Leitch finished off their own 13-man maul. They trailed 12-10 at halftime.
We were in the exact spot where we want to be. We knew if we kept the score as close as possible, they will start to do things they usually don't do, and start to panic a bit.
In the ITV studio Pienaar was edgy.
I'm not relaxed at all. Against Japan, just do the basics well. Credit to Japan, hats off, now let's take it to them in the second half.
As Leitch had foreseen, the second half gradually saw a change in tactics.
South Africa maintained their lead, helped by 2.06m, 125kg Lood de Jager busting through for a try — "he's a giraffe, a human one", exclaimed Bray.
But couldn't shake off their opponents, which brought scoreboard pressure, and the sight of the Springboks electing for a shot at goal in the 57th minute told a story.
They started panicking. We saw that and we took advantage of it. They started kicking goals, where they had been scoring every maul try up until that point.
You could see on their faces there was a bit of doubt in their eyes. We knew we had them once they started kicking goals.
But when barrel-chested Boks hooker Adriaan Strauss smashed over with 18 minutes to play — "We had the giraffe, now we have the rhinoceros," thundered Bray, the Boks had their biggest lead of the match (seven points).
However, Japan kept coming, and Goromaru crossed after an intricate set move.
South Africa edged three points ahead in the 73rd minute, before the unforgettable climax.
Japan had made almost twice the number of tackles but finished stronger.
They drove up the field, then smashed the Boks scrum backwards, before a 19 phase spell result ended six inches short.
Replacement Boks prop Coenie Oosthuizen was sinbinned. Another driving maul involving almost the entire Japanese team spilled over the goalline, but video evidence was inconclusive.
Another scrum, the penalty and then Leitch's fateful call, followed by Hesketh's history-making moment.
As the jubilation played out, Stransky put the result in context.
Who would ever have guessed this?
They have won what will become one of those folklore games, an example to all the underdogs, the David and Goliath of rugby union.
South African coach Heyneke Meyer faced the camera's beside the pitch
We let our county down, we let ourselves down, it's just not good enough.
Jones was ecstatic.
It's quite unbelievable. We always thought we could compete well today but to actually beat South Africa...it's a fantastic achievement.
It's got to give Japanese rugby a lift. If you are a young kid at home in Japan watching rugby now you would want to play rugby at the next World Cup.
Tokumasu's mind also sped ahead to 2019
It was the ideal story for me. Since we had the rights to host the World Cup, I was hoping something could happen in 2015 but it was more than I had dreamt.
[But] the team not only upset South Africa, they upset a lot of JRFU officials and fans. They were thinking about the second game [against Scotland], no way against South Africa, so not many people went to the South Africa game.
It was pretty crazy to be honest. You still don't believe that it happened, in a way.
Later that evening, Akira Shimazu, the CEO of the organising committee for the 2019 World Cup was being stopped by random strangers.
I was walking around the streets of London, and when the people realised I was from Japan they would come up to me and say 'congratulations, what a great match'.
It was the turning point of the team. Everyone expected us to lose. To prove that we can win against big teams changed the whole mindset of the team and the players in Japan now.
Even for the younger ones, the under-20s. The way they play now is completely different, to the way they used to play before we beat South Africa.
Michael Burgess travelled to Japan with support from the Asia New Zealand Foundation