Steve Borthwick explains how Japan coach Eddie Jones's gameplan gave the Brave Blossoms the confidence to beat South Africa
When former England captain Steve Borthwick signed up to work with Eddie Jones as Japan’s forwards coach after hanging up his boots, little did he know he’d be involved in making rugby history.
The 57-cap veteran jumped at the chance to work with Jones, having played under him at Saracens in the 2008/09 season and watched on as the Australian coach masterminded Japan’s victory over South Africa on Saturday.
Neutralising the Springboks’ scrum and relentless defence were just two hallmarks of the victory, one which Borthwick expects to help this tournament live long in the memory.
“This result is going to send a shockwave around and I think that’s fantastic,” Borthwick said, as quoted in the Daily Mail. ‘”It will really help make this tournament. It was always going to be a special tournament but after that it’s going to be even better.”
Usually, when tier two teams play tier one teams, the underdogs tire as the game goes into the final 20 minutes, with the sheer effort of keeping their opponents at bay.
When Adriaan Strauss crossed the line in the dying minutes many fans will be forgiven for thinking that was the end of Japan’s chances.
But Borthwick explains that the Brave Blossoms had a script for the game and as long as they were in touch with the double World Cup winners they believed they could win.
“I don’t think too many people would have believed it before the game,” he added. “But two days ago Eddie addressed the team, and he talked about a script for the game. ‘This is how we want it to go, how we want it to start’.
“And it was exactly what happened; that was the script. We talked about staying with them, staying close. We said if we can put some pressure on them, if we can get to half-time, and to 60 minutes. That was exactly what happened.
“Eddie is brilliant. To develop this group of players, to be able to achieve that, absolutely brilliant. Technically, to drive the programme and physically to do that and instil this belief in the players that they can do that. To go on the field and believe you can beat South Africa, I am not sure too many people as a head coach could have done that.”
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