Japan rugby fans celebrate their teams win over South Africa – one of the greatest upsets in the world’s sporting history.
Japan rugby fans celebrate their teams win over South Africa – one of the greatest upsets in the world’s sporting history.

Greatest upset in sporting history

JAPAN beat South Africa in the Rugby World Cup this week.

And didn't I enjoy it.

"Konnichiwa, my South African friends!"

"Heads up, South Africa; you only lost by two, so there's still a bonus point!"

And of course, the most simple yet equally effective insult of all: "You guys lost ... to Japan."

Truth be told, I only really have one South African friend with whom I am close enough to get away with said ridicule, so he unfortunately had to cop the brunt of all three.

And yes, to be fair, as I write this, it is 10pm on Wednesday night, and I am sitting up waiting for the Wallabies to kick off their own World Cup campaign against the Fijians who gave England a slight scare in the tournament opener.

Therefore, in about four or five hours time, I could have quite a bit of South African egg on my face.

But despite that impending South African egg, despite , South Africa simply can't escape from the facts here: this was one of the greatest upsets in world sporting history.

It may even be the greatest.

Bangladesh beat Australia in the cricket once, but at least the people of Bangladesh are cricket mad.

That, I feel, is a touch more than can be said for Japanese rugby.

For South Africa, it's hard to find solace.

See, despite every remarkable achievement of a side that is an equal record holder for most Rugby World Cups, something tells me that this will be their defining moment until they find a way to win their next one.

Whether we'd care to admit it or not, we as human beings love a bit of schadenfreude; it's only natural to want to hold onto negative memories..when they belong to someone else.

New Zealand's All Blacks have been the poster boys of world rugby since any of us can remember; but they'll always have the "chokers" tag come World Cup time.

Tonight, Mitchell Pearce will try to guide his Sydney Roosters teammates to his third Grand Final with the club; such a shame he'll only be remembered as "that dude who never won an Origin series".

And a young Jack McGovern was destined to be the next big thing for the Brisbane Broncos, the Brisbane Lions and the Australian cricket team; he will almost certainly be remembered as the guy who should never pick up a ball, bat or a surfboard ever again.

Well, at least, he saw himself as the next big thing.

The point is, because of that human love affair with schadenfreude (which, for the record, is a German word, giving us three languages in one column - be impressed), we like to remember the lowlights ... even if they're outweighed by the high.

It's hardly an uplifting reality, but it's one to which the South African rugby team is almost certainly going to need to grow accustomed.

The same must be said for that South African friend of mine, I suppose.

Sayonara.

(That one is Japanese too).



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