South Africa’s Makazole Mapimpi, Faf de Klerk and Lukhanyo Am all had excellent tournaments. Photograph: Inpho

15 Beauden Barrett (New Zealand) It’s too reactive to say that Barrett’s switch to fullback didn’t work on the basis of their semi-final exit, as Eng(...)

Japan’s wing Kenki Fukuoka scores a try during the  Rugby World Cup Pool A match against  Scotland at the International Stadium in Yokohama. Photograph:  Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images

Japan 28 Scotland 21 Some days a country is unbeatable. Ireland against England under Croke Park’s glare in 2007. New Zealand the week after any All (...)

Japan’s pack get ready to scrum down against Ireland during the Rugby World Pool A game against Ireland at the Ecopa stadium in Shizuoka on Saturday. Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images

How to frame one of the most amazing games of rugby I’ve ever seen; in defeat? Maybe by taking Friday’s ‘rewards’ and overlaying it on Japan. I had b(...)

James Ryan continues in the secondrow alongside Iain Henderson against Japan. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

So far, so good. Ireland’s 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign is off to a near-perfect start, after they opened with a dominant 27-3 win over Scotland in Y(...)

Japan have not named Michael Leitch in their team to face Ireland. Photograph: Getty Images

Japan left captain Michael Leitch out of their starting team for Saturday’s clash with Pool A favourites Ireland as a fit-again Amanaki Mafi took his(...)

 Japan’s players take part in a training session at Enshunada Coastal Park in Hamamatsu on Monday. Photograph:  Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images

There’s a moment in Lost in Translation when Bill Murray, playing a jaded movie star and in Japan to accept an outrageous sum of money for doing a whi(...)

Kotaro Matsushima scores his third try and Japan’s fourth against Russia. Photograph: Ashley Western/PA

Pool A: Japan 30 Russia 10 The first Rugby World Cup ever to be staged in Asia is under way and the host nation have duly delivered the result the to(...)

 George Bridge goes over for a try on  his New Zealand Test debut against Japan at the Ajinomoto stadium in Tokyo. Photograph: Kimimasa Mayama/EPA

Japan 31 New Zealand 69 A second-string All Blacks side featuring eight debutants crushed Japan 69-31 in a thriller of a try-fest in Tokyo on Saturda(...)

Thimoty Lafaele scores for Japan during their draw with France. Photograph: Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA

Yu Tamura botched his chance to give Japan a famous victory over France when he missed a simple conversion late on in a 23-23 draw at the U Arena in P(...)

Kicking coach Richie Murphy:  “Japan have turned themselves into a really good side. Play very fast and loose. “Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ladies and gentlemen of the Japanese media, and respected translators, may we present Richie Murphy. Ireland’s skills and kicking coach is as sound (...)

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