John McKee (Gallo)
London - The shockwaves from the greatest
upset in the history of the Rugby World Cup continued to reverberate on Monday
as the eighth edition of the tournament took a breather after a dramatic
As bumps and bruises were patched up,
squads trained and teams were named in preparation for the resumption of
matches on Wednesday, Japan's 34-32 victory over South Africa remained a
central topic of conversation.
For the powerhouse nations that have long
dominated rugby, it was serving as a salutary lesson about the dangers of
"Perhaps South Africa underestimated
them. I don't know," said New Zealander John McKee, coach of the Fiji side
who take on twice champions Australia on Wednesday.
"It shows that the gap between tier
one and tier two is closing. It also shows what can be achieved if you stick to
a game plan and play to your strengths."
Michael Cheika's team selection for
Australia's Pool A opener in Cardiff reflected that philosophy as he chose to
play David Pocock and Michael Hooper, both openside flanks, in his backrow.
France's Philippe Saint-Andre, one of
several coaches wrestling with short turnarounds between matches, rested all
but two of the starting team from their 32-10 opening win over Italy for
Wednesday's Pool D match against Romania.
Wales coach Warren Gatland would dearly
love to have such a luxury as he eyes a blockbuster encounter with England on
Saturday that could go some way to deciding which of the two countries will
progress from Pool A.
In yet another injury setback for the
Welsh, centre Cory Allen, who scored three tries but was one of six players
hurt in Sunday's 54-9 win over Uruguay, was ruled out of the tournament by a
The England camp, however, were determined
not to be lulled into thinking that the Welsh injury crisis would make their
old rivals any less competitive at Twickenham.
"We know we are going to get the best
from Wales," scrumhalf Richard Wigglesworth said. "We are under no
illusions about how tough it is going to be."
Whether Scotland still belong in the game's
top tier after a good few lean years is debatable, but it is to the 1991 semi-finalists
that falls the task of restoring the old order when they meet Japan in
Gloucester on Wednesday.
Coach Vern Cotter recalled fit-again
fullback Stuart Hogg to his inexperienced side for their Pool B opener and said
that Japan's victory would have little impact on how the Scots prepare for the
"They will have taken a lot of
confidence from their opening win over South Africa. However, that doesn't
change our approach to this game or the pool," he said.
"The priority for us is to ensure that
we get our jobs right with accuracy and impose ourselves on the game."
Japan coach Eddie Jones made six changes to
his side from the team that wrote itself into the history of the game last
"If the players can't get excited
after Saturday I don't know what's going to excite them. Motivation is not an
issue," the Australian said.
"It's interesting that before the
tournament Scotland said we were going to tank the first game. So if we did
tank the first game we've got a good performance coming up in our second."
A more palpable impact on the game from
Japan's victory came when South Africa fell to sixth in the world rankings,
their lowest ever position.
A sign of what it means for the game in
Japan came when World Rugby's chief executive, Brett Gosper, tweeted that the
tournament's merchandise store in London had been forced to pull down its
shutters early on Sunday because of overwhelming demand from the Japanese