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Japan 34 – South Africa 32: One of sport’s greatest shocks

ByConor Matchett

Sep 23, 2015

It’s not every day you are witness to a history defining moment in sport, but that’s exactly what happened on Saturday evening when Japan, the 13th – unlucky for some, for South Africa at the very least – ranked team in world rugby beat South Africa, a team ranked a whopping 10 places above them.

Their overtime try, itself a triumph over negative tactics, with scrum after scrum, and phase after phase instead of kicking for goal, was an embodiment of the achievement. Where does Japan’s victory stand though when viewed through history’s greatest sporting shocks? The Student takes a look at the other contenders.

Brazil 1 – Germany 7

Another incredible result, this time for all the wrong reasons.

A Brazil team in the semi-final of a home World Cup was always expected to make a fist of the game against the eventual World Champions and what had, up to that point, been a pretty shakey German team. However, all form and common sense was thrown out of the window before a half hour had passed.

Germany, facing a Brazil team that had seemingly forgetten how to defend and without their two talismen, Neymar and Thiago Silva, dominated the match from start to finish.

Goals from Muller, Klose, Kroos and Khedira put five goals past Julio Cesar in the most incredible exhibition of brutal, unsympathetic attacking football the World Cup had ever seen. By the time the final whistle was blown, Brazil, battered, humiliated and in tears, were out of the World Cup in a fashion we willl likely never see again.

The ‘Miracle on Ice’

It is a story any American ice hockey fan knows, just as any English football fan knows the story of the 1966 World Cup, but the defeat of the then Soviet Union in the first medal-round game of the 1980 Olympics remains one of the greatest shocks in the history of sport.

The Americans, a team mainly made up of amateurs and college stars, had progressed to the medal-round – a round-robin format with the top two teams from each group playing each other – and the game against the Russians was rightly billed as the likely gold medal decider. Initially the USA were losing 3-2, only for them to fight to a 4-3 lead, with 10 minutes of the final period remaining.

The Soviets, who had dominated offensively through the whole game, put the American goaltender under siege but found no way through, meaning the USA had somehow beaten the favourites.

Don Bradman out for a duck in his final innings

The almost impenetrable Bradman remains the greatest cricketer of all time, but this shock was more down to the record the Don missed out on.

Needing just four runs to retire with the astounding average of more than 100, Bradman, in his final test for the Australians, was clean bowled by England’s Eric Hollies in his first innings, leaving Bradman with an average of 99.94.

The opportunity to remedy this mistake never came, England were steamrollered to an innings and 149 run defeat, so Bradman never got his second chance.

Image courtesy of Calebj.

By Conor Matchett

Conor Matchett is a current third year Philosophy student and ex-Sports Editor. He presents a sports chat show, ‘Extra Time’, on FreshAir.org.uk.

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