Japan are capable of causing another major shock at the Rugby World Cup, according to former England wing Jason Robinson.
The tournament hosts sit top of Pool A and face a crunch clash with Scotland in Yokohama on Sunday, which will likely be a shoot-out for qualification alongside Ireland.
Japan won their opening match against Russia before coming from 12-3 down to defeat Ireland. They then scored a pair of late tries in a bonus-point victory over Samoa last weekend, boosting their hopes of finishing in the top two.
A powerful typhoon is forecast to hit Japan at the time of the final group games, threatening to disrupt the competition schedule.
Even if the matches go ahead as planned, Robinson, who won the World Cup in 2003, thinks the Brave Blossoms have a fantastic chance to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
“Japan are one of the standout teams,” Robinson told Omnisport, speaking on behalf of Land Rover, Official Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019.
“Prior to the World Cup, we talked about how potentially six teams could win it – three from the northern hemisphere and three from the southern hemisphere. We’ve been reminded again that Japan could do something.
“They’re one win away from being in the quarters for the first time, which would just be magnificent.
“If the weather forecast is as predicted and just causes chaos, if Ireland’s match is postponed and Ireland get two points, and Scotland beat Japan in the last game, Ireland could be out.
“Of all the teams that I thought would qualify, it would be Ireland, and here we are with the potential [of them going out] should the typhoon cause problems for their game.
“Both Ireland and Scotland, they might not be panicking but they will be seriously concerned.
“Japan have been one of the form teams, the way they beat Ireland was amazing, it wasn’t due to luck or a fluke, it was by a well-organised team coming at them all the time, wave after wave, playing with pace and tempo, throwing everything at it and you can see how much it means to them.
“Japan, now, are sitting in such a good place and it bodes well for the rest of the World Cup.”
Japan are scoring some fantastic tries at the moment
Slaloming from left-to-right with pace, power and skill
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 6, 2019
Robinson has no doubt two-time defending champions New Zealand, who have claimed 14 points from their first three outings in Pool B, remain the team to beat.
“New Zealand set the bar, playing a way that everybody wants to play like. That for me is the best way to play the game,” said Robinson.
“In any game there will be tactical kicking, but they want ball in hand, they want to put pressure on you, they want to keep the ball. The more you have to work, the more pressure is on you and inevitably something will give.
“In the next few games and over the next days, there’s going to be some very interesting results.”
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