BRIGHTON, England (AP) United States coach Mike Tolkin is hoping Japan’s shock victory against South Africa at the Rugby World Cup will end up helping the chances of another team – his own.
Japan stunned world rugby with a 34-32 win against the Springboks on Saturday to blow Pool B – which includes the U.S. – wide open. Tolkin figures the defeat could make Scotland coach Vern Cotter play all his best players against the Japanese on Wednesday, and that could tire them out when Scotland plays the Eagles in Leeds on Sunday.
”I think it changes the way Scotland might approach the game,” Tolkin said. ”The more rest days you get is always better at this level.”
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The U.S.-Scotland clash is shaping up as a match the Americans need to win after opening with a scrappy and undisciplined 25-16 loss to Samoa on Sunday.
Tolkin expects Japan to play Scotland with ferocious pace and quick-ball attacking rugby – another reason for a full-strength Scottish team.
”One thing about the Japanese is that they’ve always been very disciplined, (Japan coach) Eddie Jones will see to that,” Tolkin said. ”They’ll be focused and ready to go for the next games, no doubt about that.”
Tolkin will find that out for himself when Japan and the United States play their final pool match against each other Oct. 11 in Gloucester.
Tolkin draws inspiration from Japan’s ”fantastic win” against the South Africans because it demonstrates that second-tier teams are improving.
”We play Japan at least twice a year and it shows teams like us are on the rise,” he said. ”It’s good for the game.”
Still, one aspect of World Cup rugby that has not yet changed is that second-tier teams can get less rest time between games than the bigger teams.
Japan gets only three days to prepare for Scotland, while the Springboks have significantly longer to prepare for what is likely to be a massively physical clash against the Samoans on Saturday.
Japan’s coach Jones made light of it, joking that ”we’re at the bottom of the food chain.”