Having begun in the most dramatic and encapsulating fashion, Japan's Rugby World Cup campaign ended on 11 October with a 28-18 victory over the United States that left them as the first team to win three group stage games and go out.
Tries from Kotaro Matsushima, Yoshikazu Fujita and Amanaki Mafi helped earn a another well-deserved victory, but the occasion in Gloucester was the ultimate anti-climax, coming three weeks after they shocked the tournament by beating South Africa.
Scotland's victory over Samoa on 10 October had ensured that Japan, who will host the tournament in 2019, could finish no better than third in Pool B, and they ended two points adrift of the Scots and four behind group winners South Africa. Japan coach Eddie Jones, who is off to be the head coach of the Cape Town Stormers, paid tribute to his team for their World Cup performance.
"Look, now I want everything today to be about the team, it's not about my last game. It's all about the team. The players deserve all the credit, they were absolutely fantastic today," said Jones.
"We were probably 15, 20 per cent off our best today but we battled through, USA kept coming at us but we kept plugging away, a really good effort by the team today. And it really showed the team had grown up. You know to win a game like that when you're not at your best was a really good effort, full credit to Leitchie and the boys," Jones added.
Following the advent of five-team groups in 2003, no team had won three of their four pool stage encounters and not progressed to the next round. Yet Japan's failure to pick up bonus points in any of their matches and their tired defeat to Scotland four days after their Springbok shock proved to be their undoing and ensured there was nothing but pride to play for at the Kingsholm Stadium.
That and another opportunity to show-off their well-honed technical skills and remind everyone how far they have progressed having won only one game in all their previous World Cup campaigns.
"Before this tournament, let's be honest, Japan was one of the jag teams. You know, teams would put our their B teams against them and beat them by 80 or 90 points. And to come to this tournament and win three out of four games is a super effort from the team, it just shows the quality of players that we have and how hard they've worked to achieve this," Jones said.
Jones said that he would listen if approached about coaching England. "If anyone comes knocking on your door, it's polite to answer and that's all I've said. If someone comes knocking on my door I answer the door and say, "hello, how are you?" and then listen to what they've got to say. That's all I've said, I've not said I'm interested, all I've said is I'll be polite, I'm a polite guy," Jones said.