Japan beating South Africa: The biggest shock of recent times?

Shocks like this were not supposed to happen in rugby. Maybe in football, but the scale of domination by the elite is just too great in rugby. Impact Sport has taken a look at the biggest sporting shocks and upsets of recent times, to see if Japan’s recent success climbs to the top of the list.

Two-time World Cup winners South Africa. The team everyone was certain would top their group, and comfortably too, the ‘mighty’ Samoa being the only team who could realistically cause them any problems before the quarter finals.

To their credit, Japan were fantastic. Their tenacity was more than backed up by some pace and skill with ball in hand. Ayumu Goromaru’s near flawless kicking display would not have looked out of place if it came from the boot of Dan Carter, New Zealand fly-half and the highest ever points scorer. The fact that they went for the try when the game ticked beyond 80 minutes, when they could have taken one of two penalties to kick for a draw, was an incredibly refreshing scenario. And it certainly paid off.

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Greece stun Portugal in their own backyard

Greece Euro 2004

The European Championships is no stranger to shocks. Just ask Denmark. But no one in their right mind would have predicted that Greece would win Euro 2004. Having managed to qualify from a group containing Portugal and Spain, and knocking Spain out in the process, they then beat France, the 2006 World Cup finalists and holders, in the quarter-final. An extra-time win over Czech Republic and a 1-0 win in the final meant that Greece had done what many bookmakers had given 150-1 odds on.

Easily one of the biggest shocks in football in recent times, Greece were helped by the failings of Germany, Italy, and Spain in not reaching the knock-out rounds, which does temper the shock slightly.

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Del Potro beats Federer at Flushing Meadows

Del Potro US Open

Roger Federer, at one time, was unflappable. The holder of the most men’s grand slams, and in 2009, the winner of the last two slams, at Wimbledon and the French Open, going into the US Open. Prior to the US Open final, Federer was on a 41-match winning streak. On the day, however, the big hitting of Del Potro was too much for Federer, with Del Potro winning in five sets to take his only Grand Slam title, and prove that Federer is actually human after all.

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Wigan beat the Manchester millionaires

Wigan FA Cup

The 2013 FA Cup Final was Manchester City’s to lose. Wigan, who were to be relegated from the Premier League three days after the Final, had reached their first FA Cup final in their history, while City were looking to win their second FA Cup in three years.

The game itself saw both teams having chances, without being able to take them. A second bookable offence for Pablo Zabaleta reduced the favourites to 10 men, before Ben Watson’s header in the 91st minute secured the trophy for Wigan.

As shocking as it was, from the first minute there was a tangible sense that Wigan could win the final. They were also a Premier League side, and a capable team boasting the likes of Jordi Gomez and Arouna Kone.

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Germany SEVEN…

Germany 2014

The result itself wasn’t that shocking. Germany were tipped by many to beat Brazil in the 2014 World Cup Semi-Final, despite it being on Brazil’s own turf.

What no one could have dared to predict was that Germany would score five first-half goals, and finish the game with seven. It was an annihilation that left supporters in the stands sobbing, a nation humbled, and Luiz Felipe Scolari jobless.

Goals from Thomas Muller, Miroslav Klose, two from Toni Kroos, and one from Sami Khedira (four of which came in 8 minutes) in the first half left Brazil humiliated. When substitute Andre Schurrle added another two, his second a cracking control and half-volley, Brazil were facing the biggest semi-final defeat of all time. It was a record that was broken even when Oscar grabbed a consolation for Brazil, itself being almost humiliating in the circumstances.

Anyone watching was staring at their television screens in disbelief. It rocked the footballing world and left Germany as favourites for the World Cup, which they duly won with a 1-0 victory over Argentina.

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Ireland beat the English at their own game

Ireland CWC

Ireland had shown their giant-killing credentials at the previous Cricket World Cup, beating Pakistan in 2007. At the 2011 Cricket World Cup, they faced England without being given much of a chance at all.

When England posted 327-8, they left Ireland needing to complete the highest run chase in World Cup history. Ireland were then reduced to 111-5.

Step forward Kevin O’Brien. The all-rounder bludgeoned his way to the fastest century in World Cup history, scoring 100 from just 50 balls, with Ireland completing a scarcely believable result with an over and three wickets to spare.

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Connor Higgs

Images courtesy of Getty Images and the Telegraph

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