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Springbok fans demand team changes

The Boks lost 34-32 to Japan & caused the greatest upset in the tournament’s history.

The Springboks versus Japan in their opening match at the 2015 Rugby World Cup on 19 September, 2015. Picture: Twitter @rugbyworldcup.

LONDON - Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer has continued to apologise to the nation after South Africa lost to Japan on Saturday.

He says the Springboks now have to make vast improvements in their level of play ahead of their next match against Samoa on Saturday.

The defeat has left the Boks searching for answers, and many fans have demanded changes in the lineup.

With the exchange rate at about R21 to the pound, things are not cheap for South Africans who made the trip just to watch the Springboks lose to Japan.

EWN caught up with a fan in London who says despite the shocking loss to Japan the Boks can still win the World Cup.

"We have to look back to when we won the World Cup. At that time we didn't expect to have England in the final, but we beat them 15-6. It's still possible. We should win all our games from this point on and we'll be lifting the trophy."

Many fans can still be seen wearing their Bok jerseys through the streets of London and are hopeful the team will bounce back against Samoa at the weekend.

On Sunday, Meyer described the team's defeat by Japan in their opening match as unacceptable.

The Boks went down 34-32 in Brighton on Saturday night, causing the greatest upset in the tournament's history.

Japan dominated play and forced the Boks to make too many unforced errors, pushing them back on numerous occasions.

Ferocious tackling from Japan kept them within two points of the Springboks at halftime after driving mauls brought tries for South Africa's Francois Louw and Bismarck du Plessis, with Michael Leitch touching down for Japan.

The Japanese team scored a last minute try to seal victory in Brighton on Saturday.

Springbok vice-captain Victor Matfield said it's a tough loss to accept.

"It's very difficult, but we have to fix it, that's the only thing we can do. We've got a big game on Saturday against a very tough team."

But Meyer vowed the team's performance at the world cup will improve.

Meyer said he still has confidence in his team despite the poor start, adding that the only way for the Boks to redeem themselves is to go all the way and win the tournament.

The Boks' four tries were scored by Louw, du Plessis, Lood de Jager and Adriaan Strauss.

Pat Lambie kicked two conversions and a penalty goal, while Handré Pollard added a conversion and penalty goal.

"It was very disappointing, we have let our country down but we can't keep on saying that. It was a below par performance and unacceptable," said Meyer.

Captain Jean De Villiers said, "It was a massive victory for Japan and I am embarrassed. All credit to Japan and the way they executed their win. We could never get comfortable and they always hung on. It feels like a massive shock to us and it's difficult to take it all in.

Japan's bravery and tenacity was in evidence throughout the contest, but no more so than in the dying stages. Eschewing the chance to kick a penalty that would have tied the scores, Japan went in for the kill in a dramatic late onslaught that ultimately carved the opening for Hesketh to dive over in the corner.

"We always thought we could beat them," Japan coach Eddie Jones said. "It's fantastic for the team, for Japanese rugby. We worked hard for this ... It's got to go down as one of the greatest games in World Cup history."

Japan players and fans shed tears of joy at the end of a thrilling encounter that ebbed and flowed throughout, though few, if any, would have predicted defeat for the 1995 and 2007 champions.

Visit the Eyewitness News special Rugby World Cup 2015 portal.