Japan’s Rugby World Cup Ends with Loss to Argentina

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Michael Leitch, center, and his Japanese teammates walk off the field after losing to Argentina at the Rugby World Cup in Nantes, France, on Sunday.

NANTES, France — Japan was eliminated from the Rugby World Cup after losing 39-27 to Argentina in a do-or-die final Pool D match on Sunday in Nantes, France.

The Brave Blossoms gave up an early try to Argentina, then fiercely played catch-up the rest of the match as the two teams traded scores, but the South American squad always managed to hold onto the lead before pulling away at the end.

A late try in the first half by Naoto Saito cut Argentina’s lead to 15-14 at halftime, but that was as close as Japan would get.

Argentina struck first in the second half with a try and Japan kept the pressure on. A try and conversion midway through the half pulled Japan to within 29-27, but Argentina quickly struck back to secure the win.

The loss kept Japan, which finished 2-2 in the group, from advancing to the quarterfinals for the second consecutive tournament.

The top two teams from each qualifying pool advanced to the knockout stage. England topped Pool D with a 4-0 record, while Argentina placed second at 3-1.

AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez
Japan’s team form a huddle after the Rugby World Cup Pool D match between Japan and Argentina, at the Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes, France, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023.