Japan v South Africa: Kotaro Matsushima’s rise to World Cup sensation

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By Becky Grey
BBC Sport in Japan
The World Cup was just over an hour when Japan wing Kotaro Matsushima immediately became a fanatic and completed his.
This was the first time a participant had scored three tries at a World Cup game, making him the nickname’Ferrari’ because of the speed.
Matters got better to your 26-year-old after supporting the hosts stun Ireland. His rating gave Japan a bonus-point win from Samoa, and then came the crowning moment of Matsushima at the dramatic win from Scotland.
He ignited a Japanese attack that helped the country hit the World Cup quarter-finals for the very first time and grabbed for his side’s opening try.
The match was this year in Japan’s most-watched television program .
Matsushima’s score made him that the 2019 the joint of World Cup so far, about five alongside Wales’ Josh Adams, and put him front and center on the global rugby stage.
However, for a single person in the arena, this recognition for pace and its wing’s electrical skill was a long time coming.
A 30-minute drive from International Stadium Yokohama, where the Scotland game was played, is the pitch in which Hideyuki Fujiwara helped to mold the latest sensation of rugby.
I expected something good
Fujiwara has been Matsushima’s coach between the ages of 18 and 15, but his influence has extended.
The 51-year-old describes their relationship as»near some father-son bond», a particularly poignant description provided that Matsushima’s dad died while he was at the college.
Messages are exchanged by them prior to each game. Fujiwara passes on advice and good luck and Matsushima replies, however active he is.
It’s not taken Fujiwara from surprise, although watching someone grow to a player must be an experience.
«I expected it,» said Fujiwara, who’s still the trainer at Matsushima’s old college. «I expected something good .
«He had a huge effect on the Scotland match. He was always a excellent player but he’s become an one.
«The children who perform in the school now are prompted by him at the World Cup.
«There are always kids who appear to him and want to be like him it’s tough to find anyone as good as him.»
It had been Fujiwara who convinced him to join with a side instead of stay in Japan and play college rugby Following college was finished by Matsushima.
Matsushima was born into Zimbabwean dad and a mom in Pretoria and lived in South Africa until he moved to Japan aged six, therefore playing Durban-based side Sharks was not much of a foreign concept.
It was that he played one of the additional stand-out wings of this World Cup: Cheslin Kolbe.
He also Kolbe were part of the South Africa Under-20 coaching group to the 2013 Junior World Championship.
Matsushima did not, although kolbe went on to compete at the championship. The next year, he earned his first cap for Japan.
On Sunday they will be , this time as opponents. It’s Matsushima World Cup quarter-final contrary to the country of his birth, but he already has of beating the Springboks on the greatest stage of rugby experience.
Fujiwara cherished memory of Matsushima arrived a couple of years prior to that, although he started in the 2015 World Cup in Japan triumph against South Africa.
«In the tournament quarter-final in his final year of high school, 2011, he performed exceptionally,» Fujiwara explained.
«He did everything right, he scored tries whenever he touched the ball. We were winners this season, it was the only and first time we have ever won.
«It is but one of my finest memories as a coach, it will stay with me every day.»
He is pleased to avoid attention Although Matsushima has been grabbing eyes on the pitch.
Fujiwara stated Matsushima was a student that was mischievous, but he describes him as very shy.
He said Matsushima is often requested to be on tv by national broadcaster NHK, but neglects unless it is a rugby-related programme. Fujiwara believes the wing could handle being in the spotlight, though.
«He’s not too fond of this press,» he explained.
«It takes a good deal of time so he often refuses but his manager says that he must do more.
«The man he him and is in the world are two distinct things so he can handle the attention.
«He is essentially quite quiet and shy but he is powerful inside because he has been brought up really well.»
Former Japan fly-half Kosei Ono, who performed against South Africa, thinks this nature that is booked may be among those keys to the triumph of the wing.
The set also play together at Top League facet Suntory Sungoliath, in which the performances of Matsushima earned him the Most Valuable Player award of the league in 2018.
Ono says the hesitation to steal the limelight of Matsushima represents a characteristic of the Japan team that was fundamental in their own four wins that are pool-stage.
«He’s one of many players who are playing for the group and looking in the perfect places at the ideal time to complete off the team performance,» Ono said.
«Japan are playing for each other instead of against each other and nobody is trying to outshine anyone. That is just Japanese civilization, I suppose; everybody is doing what’s best for the team.»
Rugby has experienced focus in Japan since the World Cup came and fans have created an extraordinary atmosphere at the hosts’ games.
Sunday’s quarter-final from South Africa will soon be no different by helping his side to another upset against the 31, and Matsushima could fortify his status.
Ono believes that it is worth the effect he might have on the next generation of players that are Japanese, although he might not appreciate the interest that would bring.
«In 2015there weren’t a lot of Japanese superstars we looked up to,» he explained.
«If he finishes a day and sees another generation of gamers that are looking to be Kotaro Matsushima, how cool could this be?
«That is what are his motivating factor. He would not like it as such, but it’s pretty cool he can inspire little children and the whole country doing what he loves.»
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