By William Hill
Last Updated: 6th November 2019
The 2019 Rugby World Cup ended at the weekend as South Africa were crowned champions for a third time. They saw off England 34-12, but in the Webb Ellis Cup’s inaugural visit to Asia, there were plenty of talking points. The new tackle law saw a record number of red cards across but there was plenty of great rugby on display for the millions that tuned into watch.
Here we run through some of the best bits from Japan.
Team of the tournament – South Africa
This one will be obvious, seeing as they are the tournament winners. They made a lot of history in winning the Webb Ellis Cup as they became the first side to win the Rugby Championship and World Cup in the same year.
The Springboks opened the tournament with a defeat by New Zealand, and they were the first side to lose a game in the competition and still went on to win the tournament.
Their brand of rugby may have not been the most popular, but it certainly proved to be effective, and you cannot deny they deserved the victory. They look a nation that are here to and you can expect to see plenty more of the Cherry Blossoms on the world rugby stage from now on.
Surprise of the tournament – Japan
The hosts certainly pulled up plenty of trees on their way to the quarter-finals.
Their exciting brand of rugby was a breath of fresh air and gave the nation something to be proud of, having gone through the tragedy of Typhoon Hagibis, which caused two group stage games to be cancelled.
In the past two editions of the tournament, they have defeated some of the big nations – a 34-32 win against South Africa in 2015 and a 19-12 victory over Ireland this time round.
Many believe their performances over the last few years mean they should be considered a major nation in the sport, and it’s hard to disagree with.
Match of the tournament – England v New Zealand
In a major competition, to put in a performance like England did in the semi-final takes an enormous amount of quality and that was in abundance from the off, as Manu Tuilagi’s 96-second try proved.
From the very get go, England were on top of their game and had to remain at 100 per cent in order to pick up the victory, which they deserved.
There are honourable mentions as well to the hosts once again, who showed what they are made of with a fantastic showing in the 19-12 win over Ireland – which would go down as the shock of the tournament.
Moment of the tournament – Japan’s win v Scotland
Fresh from the tragic consequences of Typhoon Hagibis, Japan put in a special performance to defeat Scotland and reach the knockout stages of the tournament for the very first time.
It was an emotionally charged evening and, to just get the match on, several volunteers and tournament staff worked through the night to ensure the stadium was ready.
What they witnessed was incredible. The national anthem was sung with so much pride, with plenty of tears shed for those who lost their lives. To cap it all off, they got the all-important win.
An honourable mention also must go to England’s reaction to the New Zealand Haka. Some called it disrespectful, but it certainly set the tone for an intriguing encounter.
Try of the tournament – TJ Perenara v Namibia
The All Blacks are often lauded as the best in the business and while the victory over Namibia was as routine as they come, Perenara’s try was something extremely special.
Some excellent build-up play saw Brad Weber fling an offload behind his back to find Perenara, who had initially got the move going in his own half.
The replacement took the ball under his arm, set his sights on the corner and managed to launch himself into the air and touch down right in the corner to cap an excellent move.
Player of the tournament – Siya Kolisi
His play may not warrant this honour, but what he achieved in becoming the first black player to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy, and his battle to get there, means he deserves all the plaudits he gets.
Special mentions must also go to Fiji’s Semi Radradra who put in a performance of a lifetime in the against Wales. Tom Curry undoubtedly deserves plenty of plaudits as well for his performances at the tender age of 21 in his first major tournament.