All hail the Brave Blossoms!

21 October 2019 | Sports

Despite being marred by a devastating typhoon, which sadly claimed lives, the Japan Rugby World Cup has reached the semifinal phase.

The host nation qualified for a quarterfinal clash against the Springboks yesterday and win or lose, their Brave Blossoms have much to be proud of.

And the surprise package of the tournament would have certainly been buoyed by the home support.

Many people would not have minded supporting the Japanese, because they present a change in the pecking order of world rugby. This is critical.

They have already showed what it means to be Japanese, from the country's rich culture to its approach to global business and other international affairs.

The country has also embraced the global spectacle and the respectful and passionate Japanese fans have made the World Cup their own.

The heroics of the Japanese team has surely been noted. They even made some believe they have the ability to go the distance in the tournament.

The Japanese are known to deliver when it matters. Not only in this World Cup, but eight years ago when their women's football team won the Fifa Women's World Cup.

They unexpectedly beat favourites USA just weeks after Japan was hit by a deadly earthquake and tsunami.

If anything, the Japanese play with courage.

And of course the rugby team passed on that bravery to those struggling with the aftermath of last weekend's typhoon.

So for what it's worth, I hope Japan's success at the World Cup further ignites hopes and dreams, while its citizens make further room for the sport in their hearts.

This will go a long way in spreading the gospel of the sport beyond its traditional strongholds in Europe, Australia, South Africa and Argentina.

However, as much as Japan have soared, there are those who also have plans of making history once more. But irrespective of what happened yesterday, the Japan team have proven they are a force to be reckoned with. If rugby is truly to grown into the global sport it can become, the rise of teams like Japan is critical.

And what the Brave Blossoms have accomplished is nothing short of phenomenal. Also, looking at Namibia's performances at the World Cup, there is a school of thought that commends of bravery and ability to compete, against all odds. However, with our undoubted talent and ability to produce top players, from such a small pool available, we need to now kick things into a higher gear. We may not have the resources of the Brave Blossoms, but rugby is clearly a sport that Namibia can hold its own in on a global stage. What is now required is an umbrella high-performance facility that can hone in on critical aspects like nutrition, sport psychology, early talent identification and others that turn competitors into world-beaters. Let this be the last time that we simply praise bravery at a spectacle like the World Cup.

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