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The Brighton Miracle
The story of what is regarded as the greatest sporting upset in history.


Editor’s Choice: The Brighton Miracle (2019)

Brighton – At the Rugby World Cup 2015 in England, Japan scored a stunning, last-gasp try to down Springboks 34-32 and so catapult the Brave Blossoms into the international limelight.

Japan stunned two-time champions South Africa to cause arguably the biggest upset in rugby union history. Karne Hesketh crossed in the final minute to win an incredible World Cup Pool B encounter in Brighton.

Told through a combination of drama and documentary, The Brighton Miracle recounts the story of how Australian coach Eddie Jones (played by Temuera Morrison) and his foreign-born captain, Michael Leitch (Lasarus Ratuere), set about revitalizing the Japanese team and orchestrating that famous win.

Match highlights of Japan vs South Africa in Brighton (2015)

Inspired by true events, the story begins in 2012 with Japanese rugby officials dwelling on a humiliating anniversary, a 145-17 defeat by the New Zealand All Blacks in the RWC 1995.

Officials question their decision to appoint Eddie Jones, to coach their national team for the 2015 World Cup.

Half-Australian and half-Japanese, Jones plans to defy convention in order to put a stop to Japan being the laughing stock of world rugby, but his relentless way will push everybody to the brink of despair, including staff, assistant coaches, and team manager, Omura (JR).

With Jones wanting a new direction, the highly respected Toshiaki Hirose is replaced with a mixed-race player, Michael Leitch. With pressure for success mounting, Jones suffers a stroke and is hospitalized.

When Japan is drawn to play with two-time champion South Africa – in their opening game of the 2015 World Cup, good judges suggest the score would mimic the New Zealand annihilation.

When Michael Leitch horribly snaps his leg, his own personal race is on to regain full fitness. Jones recovers from his stroke but then his father passes away. But Jones knows it will be the players that win or lose against South Africa. Something special is needed.

An “all for one, one for all” spirit built like never before.

Japanese rugby officials support a 5-month pre-world cup camp that is designed to push the players like never before, because Japan will never be bigger or stronger than South Africa, but they will be fitter and smarter, and they plan to play in a specifically designed, Japan Way.

The Brighton Miracle trailer

As we get to know the players, we learn that a players’ family home was washed away in the 2011 tsunami, a tragedy that demoralized Japan. Michael Leitch is also carrying the pain of a lost brother.

The diminutive Fumi Tanaka is the epitome of Japan, always playing beyond his size. And Ayumu Goromaru wants to ensure he doesn’t miss this world cup as he did in 2011. For Goromaru, this world cup is his last chance. But success will come from an entire squad willing to push and support each other.

In Brighton, England, as the game played out, the world watched in awe as Japan stayed with South Africa, then audaciously hunted them, playing to weaknesses, upping the tempo, and ultimately overcoming their unbeatable foe in overtime.

The win sent shock waves around the world. But this wasn’t just about sport. It was so much more than that. It was about people playing for something more than themselves. That day in Brighton proved that with belief and planning, the impossible is indeed possible.

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