Rugby World Cup 2019 TV USA: Where to Watch Japan vs. South Africa, TV Channel, Live Stream and Odds

Four years ago, Japan delivered arguably the biggest shock in Rugby World Cup history when they defeated South Africa 34-32 with a late try in the opening game.

The Cherry Blossoms, perfectly orchestrated by Eddie Jones, humbled the Springboks with a display of courage and skill that took the two-time champions by surprise.

Frustratingly for them, however, Japan lost to Scotland in its second game and ultimately failed to qualify for the quarterfinals, finishing third in Pool B, two points behind the Scots.

Fast forward four years and the tables have turned. Japan topped Pool A with 19 points, beating Ireland and Scotland en route to its first-ever quarterfinal appearance at a Rugby World Cup.

Standing between the hosts and a historic first semifinal is the same team the Cherry Blossoms defeated in that epic encounter in England in 2015.

Even taking into account their success four years ago, the prospect of Japan reaching the last four would have been dismissed at best as sheer fantasy before the tournament began.

After all, the win over the Springboks in 2015 hadn't quite acted as the springboard some expected it would prove to be. By Sunday night, however, it may no longer even be Japan's most famous triumph over South Africa.

Rugby World Cup, Japan, South Africa
South Africa's fly-half Elton Jantjies (L) during the Pool B match against Canada in Kobe on October 8 and Japan's fly-half Yu Tamura during the Pool A match against Samoa in Toyota City on October 5. Japan will play against South Africa in their Rugby World Cup quarterfinal match on October 20. Anne-Christine Poujoulat, Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty

The hosts' run to the quarterfinals might be surprising, but it is no fluke. Only Wales has amassed as many points as Japan so far—admittedly England, New Zealand and France could have matched the total had their last pool games not been canceled because of Typhoon Hagibis—and as Ireland and Scotland have found out, Japan has all it takes to upset more established rugby nations.

Brilliantly led by captain Michael Leitch, the hosts combine skillful offloads with high-pace rugby and a penchant for the risk that has swiftly earned them a spot in neutrals' hearts.

"We know we will need to outwit South Africa," Japan's flanker Uwe Helu said in a press conference this week. "They are a physical team and we have to be smarter in how we attack.

"We know where the space is, how to identify defenders and exploit them. They are different to other teams in that they work as a group when they attack, coming at you in twos and threes. We will keep tackling and come at them every time."

Quite aptly, South Africa represents the polar opposite of Japan in rugby terms. Where Japan takes on its opponents with a rapier, the two-time champions are closer to a giant club smashing everything in its path.

It would be reductive, however, to dismiss the Springboks as a team totally lacking in finesse.

In Cheslin Kolbe South Africa has one of the world's most dazzling winger, but the team's favorite currency remains destructive power at the set pieces and in the ruck.

2⃣3⃣ Players
1⃣ Team
🇿🇦 Carrying the hopes of a nation#StrongerTogether #RWC2019 #JPNvRSA

— Springboks (@Springboks) October 17, 2019

After lacking direction for years, the Springboks have again found their mojo under Rassie Erasmus.

South Africa might have lost to New Zealand in their opening game but remain the bookmakers' second favorite, after the All Blacks, to win the World Cup.

Erasmus, who took over as coach in 2018, suggested he was far from shocked by Japan's progress.

"It is not a surprise they are in the quarter-finals," he was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

"After we played them last month, I said I thought they would be first or second in their pool. They are up to seventh in the world rankings and we know we are in for a very tough game."

The two teams met in a warm-up match last month which South Africa won 41-7 and Erasmus was eager to point out that was the freshest memory of playing Japan, rather than the defeat four years ago.

"Brighton [where Japan beat South Africa] is in the past," the former Munster coach said.

"Both teams have improved since last month and it will be interesting to see how each of us handles the pressure of expectation on Sunday."

Here's everything you need to know ahead of Sunday.

When and where is the game?

Japan takes on South Africa at Tokyo Stadium in Oita on Sunday, October 19.

Kick-off is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. local time (6:15 a.m. ET).

TV coverage

The game will be live both on NBCSN and on NBC Sports Gold—a single match pass for the latter costs $29.99.

Live stream

Fans can follow the action in several ways. Live streams will be available via and NBC will broadcast the matches on desktop, mobile tablet and connected devices.

Live streams will also be available via Apple and Android devices, as well as Amazon Fire TV, Roku and fuboTV.

Series record

Sunday will only be the third meeting between Japan and South Africa.

The Cherry Blossoms famously won the first encounter, shocking the Springboks 34-32 in the pool stages of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, with South Africa winning 41-7 last month in one of the warm-up matches that preceded the tournament.


According to Oddschecker, South Africa is a 9/50 favorite, while Japan is a 23/5 underdog and the draw is at 50/1.

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

About the writer

Dan Cancian is currently a reporter for Newsweek based in London, England. Prior to joining Newsweek in January 2018, he was a news and business reporter at International Business Times UK. Dan has also written for The Guardian and The Observer. 

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