'Our intention is to win World Cup' - Leitch

Sep 07, 2023

Japan captain Michael Leitch says he believes Japan can win the Rugby World Cup and that is aim of his side as they enter the tournament in France.

Japan shocked the rugby world in 2015 when they overturned South Africa in the pool stages of the tournament and four years later in 2019, on home soil, the Brave Blossoms shocked both Ireland and Scotland before falling against South Africa in the quarterfinals.

Their run into this World Cup has been on the underwhelming side, with losses against Samoa and Fiji in their Rugby World Cup warm-ups, although they did register a win over Tonga.

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But Leitch – who was speaking in Toulouse alongside fellow back row Lappies Labuschagné at Japan’s Rugby World Cup 2023 Team Welcome Ceremony on Sunday in Toulouse – remains optimistic about what his side can do at the tournament.

When asked whether Japan can repeat their quarter-final place at Rugby World Cup 2019, Leitch said: “Do the same but better. We’re looking at winning the World Cup. Anything can happen, red cards can happen, so our focus is on playing against Chile, England, Samoa, then Argentina and see who we face after that. Our intention is to win the World Cup.

“The pool stages will be really important for us, we want to do really well. From there, we’ll take it match by match and want to go all the way obviously. But, for now, get through the pool stages and see if we can get some good performances on the field.”

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