Namibia held their own for much longer than anybody expected against the All Blacks yesterday, trailing by just a point with five minutes left in the first half and with a temporary one man advantage after a sin binning.

But even down to 14 men, New Zealand are a force to be reckoned with, and six tries in the subsequent twenty minutes blew the Africans away as normal service was resumed.

The late game was a thriller, as France proved themselves experts at winning 23-21, exactly the same score that saw them triumph over Argentina in their first match.

The Tongans left their comeback just a little too late, meaning the French join England in the last eight with nothing but bragging rights on the line in the final group game between the old rivals.

The venue of the encounter was Kumamoto, which is the home of the rather wonderful Kumamon, who was voted best city mascot in a recent nationwide survey, despite being created fewer than ten years ago.

The rosy-cheeked black bear is ubiquitous in the city and his popularity has spread far beyond Japan’s borders, helped by a feature in a BTS video.

Kumamoto is also well-known for its enormous castle, which dominates the city. Unfortunately, it was badly damaged in the 2016 earthquake, but it has now partially re-opened to visitors.

Kumamon has played a large part in collections for the relief effort, which have been held for the region across Japan. With natural disasters occurring so often, this follows a well-established pattern of the rest of the country helping out the region impacted.

I found it a very welcoming city when I visited in late 2015, and I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you’re in the area.

Yesterday’s Matches
New Zealand 71-9 Namibia (Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo)
France 23-21 Tonga (Kumamoto Stadium, Kumamoto)

Tomorrow’s Match
South Africa vs Canada (1915 JST) (Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe)

Expression of the day
くまモンは可愛いですね ! (kumamon wa kawaii desu ne)
Which means…
(Kumamon’s so cute!)

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