RWC 2019 player ratings – Japan vs South Africa

by Anna Muir |

Final Score: Japan 3 – South Africa 26

Darlings of the World Cup, Japan, are knocked out of home tournament by a determined and powerful South Africa in a match that had every rugby fan excited.


1. Keita Inagaki – 7.5/10

Effective in the scrum and some brilliance in the loose from the prop. Was seeking out contact to match the Boks’ physicality. Impressive.

2.    Shota Horie – 5/10

Didn’t hit his man in the line out four times, a cardinal sin for any hooker. Not his best game and he can be better.

3.    Jiwomn Koo – 7/10

Didn’t look good for him in the first scrum where he got powered through but turned it around very quickly, forcing a penalty from the scrum in the second half. Good at carrying too and kept himself available for the breakdowns.

4.    Luke Thompson – 6/10

At 38 years old, the lock had a relatively quiet performance. Nothing special but nothing heinous either.

5.    James Moore – 6/10

Like his second row partner, Moore had a quiet game except for the penalty he gave away for a high tackle.

6.    Michael Leitch – 8/10

A man who has revolutionised rugby in Japan and a true leader. Stoic and consistent, ensuring he is at every breakdown and behind every player. He should be immensely proud of his accomplishments and his performance in this particular game.

7.    Lappies Labuschagne – 6.5/10

Great in defence but missing in attack. Physicality was superb and deserving of praise but just not enough bite in his attack.

8.    Kazuki Himeno

Solid in all aspects a number eight should be but no real impact.

9.    Yutaka Nager – 7/10

Was responsible for maintaining the quick pace that Japan thrive on, feeding balls from the ruck quickly and effectively which should’ve opened up the game for the Blossoms but it just wasn’t enough.

10.   Yu Tamura -7/10

Steady and sensible come to mind when you think of the Japanese fly half. He was dependable and made great decisions under pressure but just not enough to win the game.

11.   Kenki Fukuoka – 8/10

Coined the phrase ‘kinky for Kenki’ through the duration of the tournament, a firm fan favourite. Explosive and hard to contain but just couldn’t manage to get over the whitewash.

12.    Ryoto Nakamura – 6/10

Set up some great positional switches between himself and Tamura which showed his versatility as a back but he seemed to go missing in action within the second half. Underwhelming.

13.    Timothy Lafaele – 5/10

Virtually invisible outside of the first quarter of the game, he was silenced by a powerful centre partnership in his opposing side.

14.    Kotaro Matsushima – 6/10

Some flashes of brilliance from the winger who has pace to match his opposing number but he was lucky not to be shown a yellow in the 43rd minute of the game.

15.    Ryohei Yamanpaka – 7/10

Quick hands from the fullback kept phases alive for Japan and provided a convincing attacking display but again, not enough to make a denting impact in the game.

South Africa 

1.    Tendai Mtawarira – 6/10

The Beast was carded early in the first half but came back ready to scrap. Scrummaging was solid and pretty consistent and he forced a penalty in the 47th minute.

2.    Bongi Mbonambi – n/a

Subbed off early during the first half due to injury. Not enough time on the field to make much of his performance but usually very reliable.

3.    Frans Malherbe – 8/10

Quietly one of the hardest working player and showed his true excellence today. Great in the scrum and even landed himself in open play. Powerful and industrious, doing everything he was asked. Great performance.

4.    Eben Etzebeth – 7/10

Consistently put immense pressure on the Japanese forwards during the line outs which resulted in a steal for him in the 34th minute. A giant of a man who tackles aggressively and accurately.

5.    Loedwyk De Jager – 7/10

Formed a great partnership with Etzebeth and contributed to the pressure at line outs. Industrious and ever-present, he had a good game.

6.    Siya Kolisi – 8/10

A workhorse on the pitch, the skipper tackled with his usual ferocity and was consistently there for his team when need be. Industrious and a key member of the South African leadership team, Kolisi proved why he’s captain.

7.    Pieter Steph du Toit – 8/10

A pro at smothering the Japanese attacking line and a consistent tackler. Line out steal in the 68th minute on the South African 5 metre line which is always a huge bonus for any forward.

8.    Duane Vermeulen – 7/10

Made some tackles that would make any rugby player wince and dependable with carries. Not as explosive as he sometimes can be but a good performance from the number 8.

9.    Faf de Klerk – 9/10

Man of the match and a superb showing of what a scrum half should look like. Perfect box kicks and tackles that make you forget just how tiny this guy really is. Not afraid of getting into people’s faces and being a real nuisance in and around the ruck.

10.   Handre Pollard – 7.5/10

A bit of a varied performance from the tee but a wonderful display of tactical masterminding. A total of 11 points and a job well done.

11.   Makazole Mapimpi – 8.5/10

Threatening every time he had his hands on the ball and he followed through with two tries. Rapid and smart, the winger looked scarily unstoppable in most of the game. Marks deducted for an unnecessary penalty in the 52nd minute though.

12.   Damian de Allende – 8.5/10

A real asset to a loaded South African backline. Won a significant penalty in the 14th minute of the game. Was hard done by a double movement call that disallowed his try.

13.   Lukhanyo Am – 7/10

A good showing from the centre with an interception and a brilliant turnover in the 72nd minute. Nothing spectacular but no huge mistakes either.

14.   Cheslin Kolbe – 8.5/10

A player that makes you stop and stare in awe. Incredible pace and footwork paired with a true insight into the game. Also, safe to say that there are three sure things in this world – death, taxes and Kolbe under the high ball. Unreal.

15.   Willie le Roux – 5/10

Mixed bag from the veteran. Very poor in the aerial contests and dropped a very easy pass that would’ve surely resulted in a try. Bit better in the second half but very average from a man who needs to find his form again.