They may have lost the match, but their sportsmanship won them fans around the country.

The sporting world witnessed one of the most exciting games in Rugby World Cup history on the weekend, when Japan defeated Ireland 19-12 at Ecopa Stadium in Shizuoka Prefecture.

It was an upset that the top-ranking Irish team feared possible as they went head-to-head against the tenth-ranked team, but nobody could’ve predicted just how well the Japanese side would play. The show of skill, teamwork and discipline in Team Japan’s gameplay was so impressive it was commended by both the Irish players and their coach, who labelled it a well-deserved win in interviews after the game.

It was a sentiment echoed by Irish rugby fans who had travelled to Japan to watch the match as well, with many seen congratulating the Japanese side and their supporters for the worthy win. This display of sportsmanship didn’t go unnoticed by local fans, who gave the love right back to Ireland by sharing scenes like this online.

“Ireland supporters applauding the winning Japanese players. Congratulations for the Japanese win! And thank you to all the Irish supprters!!”

“I got on the Shinkansen wearing a Japanese rugby jersey and all these Ireland supporters applauded for me. What a wonderful sport.”

One tweet that went viral online was this one, which showed a group of Ireland supporters outside a convenience store near the stadium after the game, singing a unique version of “Yellow Submarine”. A number of football chants are sung to the tune of The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine”, and this one contained the altered lyrics: “We all dream of a team of Japanese. A team of Japanese, a team of Japanese”.

@honoka_youtube, who filmed the video and posted the above tweet, says she asked someone what the group was singing and they said: “It’s in honour of Japan’s victory.” With the eyes of her emoji face welling up with tears, @honoka_youtube says she’s glad she was there to witness this, and was struck by the lovely, “no-side” spirit of the Ireland supporters.

Many others chimed in with similar thoughts on Ireland’s reaction to Japan’s win, with comments like:

This is so wonderful it brought tears to my eyes.”
“The beauty of Ireland. I want to do this in future for other teams.”
“What a great sport rugby is, bringing people together for the love of the game.”
“Do you ever hear these types of stories in other sports? I never knew how great rugby could be!”
“Such sportsmanship and friendship. Makes me want to move to Ireland!”

Not only have the Irish supporters won fans for their sportsmanship, but they’ve also helped people fall in love with Ireland and the game of rugby, which is steadily gaining in popularity here. And as Team Japan’s Luke Thompson would say, that’s enough to make anyone meccha ureshii.

Source: My Game News Flash
Featured image: Twitter/@honoka_youtube

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