Japan's knowledge of Afrikaans forces Springboks to change calls for Sunday's quarterfinal
TOKYO – Japan's knowledge of Afrikaans has forced South Africa to change their calls for Sunday's quarterfinal against the RWC hosts at the Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo.
"Normally when we speak Afrikaans, it's an advantage as the opposition don't understand," said Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick.
But three of the Brave Blossoms have played professional rugby in South Africa – flank Pieter ‘Lappies’ Labuschagne, lock Wimpie van der Walt and rightwing Kotaro Matsushima.
"Now they've got Lappies, Wimpie and surprisingly the winger (Matsushima), who was born in South Africa. So, they will probably have some inside communication from our camp," said Stick.
Labuschagne played Super Rugby with some of the current Boks, such as Willie le Roux, and was even part of a Springbok squad in 2013. But he did not play a Test for South Africa, and eventually moved to Japan in 2016.
He made such an impact at the Kubota Spears and the Sunwolves that he was made Brave Blossoms' captain for the crucial Pool A match against Ireland, which Japan won 19-12, and the 38-19 victory over Samoa.
He has made the second-highest number of tackles at Rugby World Cup 2019 so far with 56, behind Samoa’s TJ Ioane on 67.
Van der Walt played Super Rugby for the Southern Kings and the Bulls, but his move to Japan to play for the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes has become a permanent one, and he has also turned out for the Sunwolves in Super Rugby.
Matsushima, born to a Japanese mother and Zimbabwean father in Pretoria, featured for the Sharks in provincial rugby in 2013, and signed for the Suntory Sungoliath club in 2014.
He is RWC 2019's joint-top try-scorer on five, alongside Wales’s Josh Adams.
African News Agency (ANA)