SPEAR SHAME IN SHIZUOKA

Yesterday I was talking about how Fiji were lucky to escape a red card. Today, there was absolutely no escaping that fate for Italy. In fact, there should really have been two red cards issued for the same foul, as two Italians were both culpable in the assault.

Andrea Lovotti and Nicola Quaglio picked up Duane Vermeulen, turned him upside down and dropped him headfirst into the ground in a horrific spear tackle that will hopefully see both serving lengthy bans. It was more like WWE than rugby, but this was for real.

The Springboks were already comfortably ahead at the time of the “tackle”, which effectively ended the game as a contest, and cantered off to an easy 49-3 win after the dust had settled on it. They will now be watching Japan’s group closely to see who their quarter final opponent will be.

This was the second match in Shizuoka, the place I’ve called home for the past five years. The prefecture is the leading producer in Japan of both green tea and wasabi, so a multitude of wasabi and green tea flavoured products are on offer everywhere. The wasabi ice-cream in particular is well worth a try.

Historically, Shizuoka is synonymous with Tokugawa Ieyasu, who founded the Tokugawa Shogunate that brought to an end the warring of the Sengoku Jidai. Watch a great explanatory video series about that period in history here.

To put it briefly, Ieyasu was held hostage in Sumpu castle as a child. After many wars and much intrigue, he became shogun of a united Japan. Upon retirement, he chose to spend his final years in the same castle he was previously held hostage, handing over the reins to his heir Hidetada.

Numerous statues can be found of Ieyasu around town, including one just outside the train station and one in the centre of the castle park. The park, outer walls, moat and a couple of towers is all that remains of Sumpu castle, however, as it was dismantled during the Meiji Restoration by political opponents.

The fan zone in the castle park is far from being dismantled yet, however. I’ll be heading there for the third time tomorrow to catch the beginning in earnest of England’s World Cup against Argentina and the hopefully ongoing fairy tale of the Brave Blossoms.

Today’s Match
South Africa 49-3 Italy (Shizuoka Ecopa Stadium, Shizuoka)

Tomorrow’s Matches
Australia vs Uruguay (1415 JST) (Oita Stadium, Oita)
England vs Argentina (1700 JST) (Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo)
Japan vs Samoa (1930 JST) (Toyota Stadium, Toyota)

Expression of the day
このアイスがバカうまいです! (kono aisu ga baka umai desu)
Which means…
This ice-cream is really tasty! (in the Shizuoka dialect)

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