Both countries should be proud of themselves tonight.
Japan where great for 50 minutes.And would of beaten the Wallabies .If they played them this weekend.
South Africa defended brilliantly in the first half.Read the game and opened Japan up in the second half.
My first sighting of the Springboks was a Naas Botha-led side at Twickenham in 1992. They looked well off the pace - though you could see they had talent. No-one watching could ever have believed they'd be World Champions only 3 years later: uniting their country, however fleetingly.
Since then, there's been something about good or great South Africa sides which I enjoy more than anything else in rugby. They have such balance: ferocious at the breakdown, fantastic forward play, and always so quick thinking and quick witted among the backs. A bit of everything. Unlike New Zealand, they never seem like supermen, or players born with impossible levels of talent. They always have to work for it. Whereas their ceiling of potential is exceptional, the All Blacks' is sometimes extraordinary. But that only helps me relate to them better, somehow.
Yet in the last 24 years, even with all they've achieved in that time, this is the first Springbok side which looks completely at ease with itself: black and white, with no controversy, no quotas, no politics. Led by the ridiculously impressive Rassie Erasmus: who flourishes in a job which has destroyed many of his predecessors. Today, his gameplan was perfect. Drawing Japan's sting with incredible defence, before turning on the afterburners in the second half, and totally overpowering the hosts. It was awesome to watch. They made Japan look like a bunch of lightweights.
All the focus will be on New Zealand v England over the next week. Many people have described it as the 'real final'. It's not. Yet that it's being treated as such will suit South Africa perfectly. The Springboks have more gears they can engage, and I'm quite sure they will. Can they beat the All Blacks in the final? Yes. New Zealand don't scare them, however brilliant they are. Would South Africa beat England in the final? I'm quite sure they would. Beating both rugby's great superpowers in successive weeks is way too tall an order.
Cards on the table: as I did pre-tournament, I think South Africa will win the World Cup. They're developing round by round, they're mentally superb, they're coached quite brilliantly, and haven't produced their best yet. Nor will they need to next week - unlike in the other semi, where both sides will be going flat out.
As for Japan: what can you say? Their public are magnificent; the warmth, grace and love of the game they've shown gladdens the heart. And their players, each and every one of them, are all heroes. Rugby has a new power - and World Rugby must give them a proper annual tournament, or else. 24 years ago, Japan lost 145-17 - ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY-FIVE - SEVENTEEN! - to New Zealand. Even then, you could see they had talent... but physically, it was impossible. Japan, I thought, would never do anything in rugby until a handicap system was invented.
That puts their last 4 years in proper context. Their emergence has been staggering and sensational. And going into today, no South African anywhere will have been taking anything for granted. Japan are at least everyone's equals now - and superiors to many. Hats off to Jamie Joseph, Michael Leitch (LEITCH! LEITCH!), Shota Horie, the fabulous hooker with the dreadlocks, and their whole squad. They've arrived as a force on the world stage... and their country is doing itself proud in running a fabulous World Cup.
That World Cup is now down to its final four: three horses... and a mule. I wouldn't be shocked if Wales produce a huge performance next weekend, but it won't be enough. Three other sides are playing at a wholly different level - and it's the Springboks who, I'm ever more confident, will make off with the prize.
Going for the Poms. Wouldn't have thought so after last week as a genuine hatred for them arose after losing the world cup semis in cricket and QF in Rugby. They say one weeks a long time in Footy and it certainly is in sport. fu** the ALL-Black's, I hate seeing the favourites win all the time and screw them on winning 3 straight world cups ( although if they did it would be a great feat and I wouldn't give a shit a second after they did ) But.......