29 Sep 2019

Japan add another Rugby World Cup upset

10:52 am on 29 September 2019

Japan's 19-12 win over Ireland at the Rugby World Cup was just one of many upsets in the history of the tournament:

japan rugby team celebrates a win over Ireland. Rugby World Cup 2019.

Japan rugby team celebrates Photo: PHOTOSPORT

SAMOA 16 WALES 13 (1991)

Samoa introduced the world to Pacific Island rugby with victory over the tournament co-hosts with tries by Sila Vaifale and To'o Vaega ensuring Wales did not qualify for the quarter-finals.

SAMOA 38 WALES 31 (1999)

The Pacific Islanders again upset Wales in Cardiff with five tries and some superb defence led by inspirational captain Pat Lam, although the tournament's official hosts still advanced to the quarter-finals.


While not an upset given France's stature, they had struggled into the knockout phase and were trailing 24-10 in the second half and unable to halt a rampaging Jonah Lomu before they scored 33 unanswered points to clinch a place in the final.


The Pumas spoiled the opening party for the hosts with a Felipe Contepomi engineered victory as the inside centre kicked four penalties, while Ignacio Corleto scored the only try.

FIJI 38 WALES 34 (2007)

Fiji prop Graham Dewes scored a late try after his side had squandered a 25-3 lead to knock Wales out of the tournament at the pool phase again and send Fiji to the quarter-finals for the first time since 1987.

TONGA 19 FRANCE 14 (2011)

Loose forward Sione Kalamafoni and prop Sona Taumalolo dragged the Pacific islanders to victory over France at a heaving Wellington Regional Stadium, although Marc Lievremont's side still made the final despite losing two of their pool matches.


Karne Hesketh's injury-time try gave the Brave Blossoms the biggest upset in World Cup history in Brighton as the Springboks lost for the first time to a tier-two nation. It sparked immense interest in the team in Japan with 25 million watching their victory over Samoa later in the tournament.

URUGUAY 30 FIJI 27 (2019)

Uruguay stunned a fatigued and error-prone Fiji, who had been tipped to be potential quarter-finalists and had pushed Australia close in their opening match. Uruguay's only previous World Cup victories had come against Spain and Georgia.

JAPAN 19 IRELAND 12 (2019)

Kenki Fukuoka's second-half try and Yu Tamura's boot beat a side recently ranked world number one in a shock to match their win over twice world champions South Africa in 2015 and put them in pole position to reach the quarter-finals for the first time.