We’re supporting Japan to root for old boy Borthwick

Hutton players support Japan

Hutton players support Japan

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England may be out, but World Cup fever is still gripping rugby players at one school near Preston.

Pupils at Hutton Grammar will switch allegiance this weekend to support surprise packages Japan, coached by a man whose studmarks they dream of running in.

Steve Borthwick, former England captain, is one of the school’s most famous old boys.

And the one-time Hutton skipper has played a key part in Japan’s stunning World Cup success.

Having shocked the rugby world by beating giants South Africa and then thumping Samoa, the Cherry Blossoms face the United States on Sunday in a match which could, depending on results elsewhere, propel them into the quarter-finals - something host nation England have catastrophically failed to do.

“The rugby teams at Hutton are all behind Japan now that England are out,” said head of PE Graham Aitchison.

“They have been very much aware that an old boy of the school is an integral part of Japan’s success as assistant coach to Eddie Jones.

“Steve continues to be an influential figure at Hutton, he is a fantastic role model for all the boys here. So we will all be right behind him and Japan against the USA.”

Borthwick, who captained Hutton Grammar in the 1990s and then went on to Preston Grasshoppers, Bath and Saracens, retired from playing last year and has since been concentrating on Japan as forwards coach.

Staff at Hutton say they can detect their former student’s style in the way Japan have been playing during the World Cup.

“Yes, we can definitely see Steve’s influence particularly in the lineout,” said Graham.

“But also the intensity they play, which is similar to Saracens, particularly their defence and line speed against South Africa and Samoa.

“The staff here have been emphasising to the boys the dynamic style of play of the Japan team, hoping to inspire them to perform in the same manner. “Steve came into school in the summer and so we’ve acquired a bit of Japanese kit.

“We’re hoping they can beat the USA, other results go their way and they can reach the quarter-finals.”