Japan's rugby captain Michael Leitch now gets mobbed in Tokyo restaurants.
His New Zealand compatriot Karne Hesketh, who scored the game-winning try on that famous afternoon against South Africa, was honoured as police chief for the day in one of Japan's biggest cities.
And goal-kicking fullback Ayumu Goromaru has become an overnight sensation, with regular appearances on television shows and celebrity magazines. He has even had a zoo's giraffe named after him.
Rugby has arrived in Japan. It still doesn't have the profile of baseball or football, but the interest generated by this year's World Cup has been staggering.
Rugby has entered the mainstream, reaching a level of awareness that could never have been previously anticipated.
"There is a huge buzz about the sport at the moment, a real rugby fever here," says New Zealand-born Luke Thompson, who played 63 tests for the Brave Blossoms before his retirement after the 2015 World Cup.
Thompson, based in Japan since 2004, has never seen anything like it.
"There's been lots of media attention, interviews, TV appearances. It went crazy here during the World Cup - you couldn't buy a Japan jersey - and it's just carried on."
A recent clash between Thompson's Osaka-based Kintetsu Liners and the Panasonic Wild Knights (the former team of Sonny Bill Williams, now coached by Robbie Deans) attracted more than 10,000 people. In the past, it might have drawn 3000-4000, a trend across the league in the opening games of the season.
The most obvious impact has been on television. On a previous visit in 2012, rugby was hard to find on the small screen, maybe only on a niche cable channel, but also never on the terrestrial stations.
Now you stumble across it anywhere. Rugby regularly pops up on Japan's ubiquitous variety shows, as celebrities and hosts discuss Japan's new trendy sport.
"You never used to see that," says Thompson. "Those kind of shows reflect the public interest. Now we just hope it carries on."
Japan first five-eighths Kosei Ono has also noticed a massive change. A product of Christchurch Boys' High School who played alongside Colin Slade and Owen Franks, Ono returned to his native Japan in 2007 and has now played more than 30 tests.
"Before the World Cup, you wouldn't have known the tournament was even on," says Ono. "It wasn't even going to be live on [national] television.
Then after the South Africa win, the national stations picked it up and 25 million watched the game against Scotland, more for the Samoan game - incredible numbers for Japan."
The flow-on effect has been obvious. As many as 2500 people watched Ono's Suntory club play a practice match a few weeks after the tournament, when normally such a game might draw 100 people.
Former Otago wing Hesketh, who scored the match-winning try against the Springboks in the 84th minute, was honoured by being made chief of police for a day in Fukuoka, a city of 1.4 million. Leitch is no longer anonymous in the mega city of Tokyo.
Homegrown fullback Goromaru has become the biggest object of Japan's new-found affection for rugby.
Goromaru, who scored 24 points in Japan's historic win over South Africa, and has recently signed with the Queensland Reds, was named GQ man of the year and is all over magazines, television and newspapers.
Goromaru's intricate goal-kicking routine, modelled on Jonny Wilkinson in his heyday, has become an object of fascination for the Japanese public and media.
His giant figure stares down from billboards in Tokyo and Yokohama and a baby giraffe at a local zoo was recently named after him, winning a public vote ahead of other options including tennis star Kei Nishikori.
There's also been a 300 per cent increase in visitors to a temple in Gifu, after it was claimed that a Buddhist statue there bore a strong resemblance to Goromaru during his kicking stance.
"Some of the reaction has been incredible," says Ono. " There is still a lot to do in terms of the administration of the sport, junior numbers and encouraging people into the game after their university days. But there is a good platform to build on."