Highs and lows of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan

The Rugby World Cup draws to a close this weekend with England facing South Africa in the final.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the highs and lows of the tournament in Japan.

HIGHS

Japan jubilant

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Host nation Japan became the first team from Asia to make the quarter-finals of a Rugby World Cup with a 28-21 victory over Scotland, who bowed out after the pool phase as a result. The Brave Blossoms also stunned Ireland in a 19-12 win earlier in the tournament as they topped their group.

Warm welcome for Wales

The Wales squad were serenaded by 15,000 Japanese fans at training, with supporters singing the Welsh national anthem. Thousands attended Wales’ open training as World Cup fever gripped Kitakyushu. The players arrived to fans wearing red shirts and singing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau before a rendition of hymn Calon Lan.

England stun All Blacks

England produced one of the greatest displays in World Cup history to storm past defending champions New Zealand in the semi-finals. An extraordinary match beckoned from the moment Manu Tuilagi crossed after 97 seconds, and the final scoreline of 19-7 did little justice to the domination of Eddie Jones’ men, who were superior in every single facet of the game.

LOWS

End of the road for Vahaamahina

Wales v France – 2019 Rugby World Cup – Quarter Final – Oita Stadium
Referee Jaco Peyper sent off France’s Sebastien Vahaamahina (David Davies/PA)

France lock Sebastien Vahaamahina announced his retirement from international rugby a day after his red card against Wales. The Clermont Auvergne forward was dismissed early in the second half for an ugly elbow on Wales’ Aaron Wainwright as his side lost a dramatic quarter-final showdown 20-19. Vahaamahina won 46 caps for Les Bleus, with his only try coming against Wales in Japan.

England v France off

Typhoon Hagibis
People brave the rain ahead of Typhoon Hagibis in Japan (David Davies/PA)

Typhoon Hagibis put paid to any chance of the Pool C decider between England and France taking place in Yokohama. The cancelled match was declared a scoreless draw, with the teams receiving two points apiece and Eddie Jones’ side finishing top of the group. New Zealand v Italy was also among the matches cancelled due to the typhoon, which is tragically reported to have claimed as many as 86 lives.

Italy duo denied swansongs

England v Italy – Guinness Six Nations – Twickenham Stadium
Italy’s Sergio Parisse was denied his farewell appearance. (Adam Davy/PA)

Italy veterans Sergio Parisse and Leonardo Ghiraldini missed out on farewell appearances due to the cancellation of their clash with the All Blacks. Azzurri captain Parisse, a 142-Test veteran, is one of only three players to play in five World Cups and is expected to retire after the tournament. Hooker Ghiraldini, who recovered from a serious knee injury to reach Japan, was due to be given a 20-minute farewell cameo.

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