After an encouraging win over Scotland in their World Cup opener, Ireland were very much brought back down to Earth yesterday in Fukuroi. While Japan deserve every credit for their fantastic performance, you cannot escape the fact that this was a dire showing from Ireland.
They lacked creativity in attack and failed to come up with any sort of real answers to stop a nation that is quite a few rungs below them in the world rugby ladder.
Whereas a quarter final meeting with South Africa once seemed like a certainty, that is now also thrown into doubt. Joe Schmidt's side will face a major battle to top the pool and will require other results to go their way.
Still, the tournament does go on despite this huge setback. Some even view it in a far more positive light.
Speaking to members of the media earlier today, Johnny Sexton reckons the loss could even act as a 'blessing in disguise' of sorts:
The only blessing in disguise is that in the last two World Cups I’ve been involved in, we’ve not cruised through the group, but we’ve had everything go our way in the pool stages.
And then we’ve had the day we had yesterday in the quarter-final. And we’d be going home today.
We've got the rest of the pool to get things together
So the great thing now is that we’ve got the rest of the pool to get things together.
We know to a certain extent things are in our hands if we can win the last two games and score a number of tries that we can definitely qualify for the quarter-final.
First or second place is out of our control, so we won’t worry about that.
But it’s up to us now to put in two big performances and hopefully get ourselves in to a quarter-final. And we know that if we can get there we’ve got a chance...
A five-game winning run now would be great, that would do nicely.
While this could well act as the wakeup call Ireland need, being involved in a shock like this on the sport's biggest stage can never really be considered a good thing. It certainly doesn't bode well for their knockout prospects.
Ireland will have to pick themselves up for a game against Russia on Thursday, with a bonus point win needed to keep their quarter final destiny in their own hands. The same will required against Samoa nine days later.