TOYOTA CITY – Japan coach Jamie Joseph is not sure if his team is more globally popular than New Zealand, but can feel a massive swell of public support as they stand on the brink of a historic Rugby World Cup quarter-final.
The Brave Blossoms' 38-19 victory over Samoa at the City of Toyota Stadium on Saturday means a win or draw in their final Pool A match against Scotland in Yokohama on October 13 will seal a first-ever knockout place, while even a bonus-point defeat may also be enough.
New Zealander Joseph was asked if his side are now more interesting to watch for the neutral spectator than the world champions, and while he batted away that question, he praised the Japanese people for getting behind the side.
"I can't talk about the All Blacks but what I'm witnessing every Saturday is a full stadium," Joseph told reporters. "It started with the Russia game and has been growing every week since then.
"The Japanese public are really behind the team. But that's what we knew would happen if we won test matches.